Google launched Google Maps on February 8 back in 2005 intending to assist people to navigate and explore the world around them. Over the span of the past 15 years, Google has not only improved the navigational skills of Maps but it has also added a host of features that make it easier for the users to find new places and even get there.
While some of these features, like the Mixed Commute Mode, were inspired by the Indian traffic conditions, others, like the Two-Wheeler Mode, piloted in India first before being rolled out to the rest of the world.
Let’s start with the two Wheeler Mode. This mode gives users riding bike access to routes that cannot be accessed via a car or truck. It also shows the traffic that the bike riders are expected to see in their routes in addition to the estimated time of arrival. Maps also have a special ‘Auto Rickshaw Mode’ (yes, your very desi auto rickshaw!) that suggests users routes for their rides along with the estimated fare, so that commuters don’t end up paying more for their rides.
Google Maps also has special modes for train and bus transit. The ‘Bus Travel Times from Live Traffic’ feature tells users how long their bus ride will be based on live traffic conditions. This feature is available in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chennai, Mysore, Coimbatore, and Surat. The ‘Live Train Status for Indian Railways Trains’ feature, on the other hand, live-tracks a train and informs users when the train will arrive on the platform.
Google Maps also has special features that enable users to explore places, such as landmarks and restaurants, around them. While the ‘Landmark-based Navigation’ feature shows users major landmarks in their route, the ‘Dining Deals’ feature enables users to find and claim, well, dining deal at restaurants around them. This feature is available in 11 cities across India. The list includes Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad.
Google Maps also has a ‘Stay Safer’ feature that alerts users, using public transport, when their vehicle goes off route. It also enables users to share the live status of their trips with their friends and family. In addition to all this, Google Maps also features support for 10 Indian languages. Users can see points of interest and road names in two languages, which include Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and Nepali. They can hear voice commands while navigation in seven Indic languages. The list includes Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam.
Google Maps also has a bunch of features that were designed based on the requirements for the people in India. Take a peek:
Google Maps has an ‘Offline Mode’ that enables users to get turn-by-turn directions, search for specific destinations, and find information such as hours of operation and contact information even in the areas where there is no internet connection. The ‘Mixed Commute Mode’, on the other hand, tells users the time it will take them to reach a specific destination while they are using a combination of auto-rickshaw and public transport. It also tells them which station they should take the auto-rickshaw from. This feature is available in Delhi and Bengaluru only.
The navigation app has two dedicated ‘Explore tab’ that allows users to explore places in their neighborhood.
The app also has a feature that allows users to find a public toilet that is nearest to their location. Google Maps now has over 57,000 toilets that are located in more than 2,300 cities across the country. Lastly, Maps has a Plus Codes feature that comes in a ‘6-character + city’ format. These codes act as digital addresses for places that don’t have a physical address and allow users to find places that haven’t been listed already.
(With inputs from hindustantimes)