Google Maps just turned 15, and in honor of its full-fledged adolescence, the app is getting a whole new redesign that prioritizes community reviews, accessibility, and more efficient travel planning. Here's how it works.
The new Explore tab provides information, ratings, and reviews for local restaurants, bars, and attractions. You can also book reservations or order food within the app. The Commute tab provides real-time traffic updates in the way we're used to, but in the context of your fixed daily commute, which you can set up by entering your home address, work address, and the arrival and departure times you're aiming for. The Saved tab aggregates all of the places you save on Google Maps in one easy-to-find spot, which is super convenient for itinerary planning. The Contribute tab is reminiscent of the Google-owned app Waze, and functions as a place where users can share information about locations — whether it's a restaurant review or a warning about an icy road. And lastly, the Updates tab provides news about local attractions.
Starting in March, Google Maps will also provide a much more comprehensive public transit overview — with important details shared by other Google Maps users in categories like temperature, accessibility (including whether there is staffed assistance, accessible entrances and seating, accessible stop-button, and hi-visible LED), security, and number of carriages.
Google will also be expanding Live View, which uses augmented reality technology to overlay real-world imagery with directions and signs, and will be rolling out new features including the ability to see how far away your destination is when you're on foot. Which is a thing that we apparently need.