Google Maps is getting 3D images on mobile devices, detailed bike information, and more

Left: The Google Maps bike information shows detailed information about the size of the hill and the quality of the bike path.  Right: A location sharing notification.
Zoom in / Left: The Google Maps bike information shows detailed information about the size of the hill and the quality of the bike path. Right: A location sharing notification.

Google

Google Maps is rolling out some new features today, and after a decade of trying, Google is finally rolling out Street View in India. What took so long ?!

First, we have some new features from the latest Google blog post. Cyclists will now see much more information explaining what a route will look like. Maps now break down a route as a percentage, showing how long you will stay on a marked bike line, shared route, steep hill, or main road. The route selection screen is also able to divide routes into categories such as “more cycle paths” and “less curves”.

Location sharing is now receiving notifications. If friends or family share their location with you, you will soon be able to look at a certain area and get notified when they arrive or leave. Google imagines that if you all meet somewhere, you can report that location and get a push notification when each person arrives. It would also be nice to know when someone lands at an airport.

As always, location sharing is a difficult balance for privacy, so here’s what Google says:

We built this feature with privacy at the fore. Notifications can only be set for someone who has already chosen to share their location with you. The person who shared their location with you will receive multiple reminders to let them know, including a push notification in the Maps app and an email, as well as recurring monthly emails. As always, you’re in control – choose to stop sharing your location or prevent someone from setting notifications altogether.

The SimCity-how is the immersive visualization starting … maybe?

Google is also launching “photorealistic aerial views of nearly 100 of the world’s most famous monuments”. Google’s blog post isn’t very clear on what we’re getting. What’s clear is that we’re finally getting some sort of Google-Earth-style 3D imagery on a phone, something that wasn’t previously possible in the Google Maps mobile app. There is a “3D” button. desktop Google Maps, which launches the Google Earth dataset, but on mobile devices you only ever have a flat satellite view or 3D building blocks with no textures. Google Earth has its own mobile app, which previously made a lot more sense because it requires an incredible amount of processing power, which your phone didn’t necessarily have.

The big question, however, is, “Is this immersive vision”? Google previously announced “Immersive View” to Google I / O as a super-ambitious new level of detail for Google Maps desktop and mobile, which elevates graphical fidelity to new levels. The function basically turns the service into SimCity, featuring animated and simulated 3D traffic, realistic water reflections, animated birds, clouds and time of day lighting. Google Not let’s say that the immersive view will be launched soon, but instead that this new 3D feature is “the first step towards the launch of the immersive view”. This makes it seem like this feature is somewhat more limited than Immersive View, but then the Google gif detailing the feature contradicts this claim by showing the exact same London Immersive View footage that was shown in demo at I / OR. You can see moving cars, clouds and weather, reflective water and shadows. It sure looks like an immersive view to me. We will have to see what will come out.

Street View is finally coming to India

Finally, Google Maps Street View is finally coming to India. India is the second largest population in the world and a major target for Google, so it might be surprising to know that Street View didn’t already exist there. Google hasn’t been allowed to launch Street View in India for the past decade. Google initially tried to launch the service in India in 2011, but objections from the Indian government put an end to Google’s data collection. Google tried again in 2016 by submitting plans to the government, but they were again rejected. Both times the government cited concerns over photography of “sensitive defense installations” and Street View never got off the ground. (Google blurs tons of map data on demand in other countries, but for some reason that wasn’t an acceptable solution.) The reason for the sudden relaunch of Street View is a new Indian geospatial policy launched last year. Google is not yet authorized to collect data, but it can now license that data from local companies.

Data licensing is not Google’s standard operating procedure. That’s certainly how Maps began, but today Google prefers to collect everything on its own, because that data represents a huge competitive advantage. If you include contractors, Google Maps is Google’s largest division by staff. The company employs an army of Street View drivers and other Maps data collectors to map the entire world. Owning all of this map data not only allows Google to deny access to direct competitors, it also allows Google to resell the data to any developers who need to build mapping capabilities in their apps.

However, Google is not yet authorized to collect geospatial data in India. So Google now has two partners in the country, companies called Tech Mahindra and Genesys. Street View in India will be launched for the first time in 10 cities and Google plans to map 50 Indian cities by the end of the year. As this data is also available to other competitors, the local MapmyIndia service is also launching 360 ° image displays along roughly the same trajectory.

All of this should be launched “in the coming weeks”.

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