Google Maps turns 15: Here are all the Maps features that show Google’s love for India
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.
India is an important market for Google. This can be ascertained from the number of India-focussed features and services that the company has introduced across its services in the past couple of years. For instance, the company introduced support for seven new Indic languages in the Discover section of its Google app last year. It also introduced support for Hindi in Google Assistant on Android TVs last September.
In addition to these features, and many more like them, Google has opened a research lab in Bengaluru to focus on computer science research in India. It has also partnered with Vodafone-India to bring Google Assistant to people living in areas with poor Internet connectivity.
These are some of the new features that Google has launched in India in the past couple of months. But did you know India has been a source of inspiration for Google for a long time. Over the years, the company has not only launched products, like the Google Bolo app, for its users in the country but it has also taken inspiration from the country to improve and add new utilitarian features to its existing products and services. And one of the best examples for this is the company's navigation app -- Google Maps.
ALSO READ: Google Maps gets a new UI, features, logo as it turns 15
Google Maps has over a dozen features that were either inspired by the requirements of people in India or were piloted in the country first. The Two Wheeler Mode and the Auto Rickshaw Mode are some of best use-cases wherein the company added features to Google Maps that were added to solve issues being faced by millions of commuters in India everyday. While the former gives information about unique routes that are inaccessible by car and trucks to the bikers, the latter one suggests users routes for their rides along with the estimated fare, allowing commuters to make the most of their journey.
Similarly, Google Maps also has special modes for train and bus transit. The navigation app has a Bus Travel Times from Live Traffic feature that tells users how long their bus ride will take. This feature is based on the live traffic conditions and it 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.
India is a country with a rich cultural heritage. There is a landmark at every corner. To make it easier for users to explore these spots and find restaurants, Google Maps has a Landmark-based Navigation feature, which shows users major landmarks in their route, and a Dining Deals feature, which enables users to find and claim dining deals at restaurants around them. This feature is available in 11 cities across India including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad.
But that's not it. Google has also launched features that make commutes safer and easier. The app has a Stay Safer feature that alerts users using public transport when their vehicle goes off route. It also allows them to share the live status of their trips with their friends and family. It also features support for 10 Indic languages, including Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Nepali, which allows users to see points of interest and road names in two languages. Additionally, Google Maps users can hear voice commands while navigation in seven Indic languages. The list includes Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam.
All these features piloted in India first. But the app also has a bunch of other features that were launched to cater to the requirements for the people in the country. The Offline Mode, for instance, enables users to use the app -- get turn-by-turn directions, search for specific destinations, and find information such as hours of operation, etc -- even in the areas where there is no internet connection. The Mixed Commute Mode, on the other hand, is especially designed for commuters in India who take multiple modes of transport to travel between two locations. It 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 suggests which station they should take the auto-rickshaw from. This feature, however, is available only in Delhi and Bengaluru.
Now comes the interesting part. Did you know that you can also find the location of the nearest public toilet using Google Maps? The navigation app has listed over 57,000 toilets that are located in more than 2,300 cities across the country to make it easy for the commuters to, well, take a break! Lastly, Maps has a feature that enables people to find places that they cannot find even using a PIN code. The app 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.
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