We believe that maps can be useful and fun, so we designed Google Maps to simplify the transition from point A to point B. This was the first sentence with which Google launched Maps on February 8, 2005, giving way to what later it would first become a popular map service. Maps is getting ready to blow out its fifteenth candle and it is much more than a simple app that is used to move from place A to place B – think of services like Street View and Google Earth.
Free, accessible from desktop and mobile, constantly updated.These were the pillars on which Google Maps built its success, also thanks to the huge installed base of Android smartphones that offered access to the service the first time it was turned on – this allowed Maps to cut the remarkable 5 billion mark installations from the Play Store in March last year.
Two years after its birth, Maps also managed to attract the attention of Apple who used its cartography for iPhones and iPads until 2012, when it decided to point to its Maps App. The separation between Apple and Google users, however, did not last long, given that the Maps app arrived in the App Store at the end of the same year.
2009 marked another historic milestone for Maps: turn-by-turn directions arrived and the move contributed to shake up the sector of dedicated navigators (even Nokia in those years traveled on the same path taken by Google). Who needed a standalone navigator with paid maps, if a smartphone with a free app was enough? At the end of 2015, the possibility of exploiting the navigation service even in offline mode came to fill the gap with a real navigator – it was not necessary to stay connected to the Internet, it was enough to download a portion of the map in the smartphone’s memory.
Over the years, Google has enriched and improved the information contained in Maps also directly involving end users, think of the Local Guides service, activated in 2015 and which allows you to receive rewards by providing useful information to improve.
In more recent times the Mountain View house has resorted to Augmented Reality to try to make Maps even more useful and engaging: since last year it is possible to try Live View, which shows the directions superimposed on the real environment.
In May 2007, Google decided to enhance Maps with Street View, which had the ambition to allow the exploration of the world in first person, while remaining comfortably in an armchair. Larry Page had wished for it to be built in 2004, but the mapping of the territory started two years later, and only in the United States.
Despite initially limited coverage, it was immediately clear that Google had other ambitions for Google Maps: not a simple app that provided digital maps, but an activity that in the following years allowed to observe the most disparate corners of the Planet with a database formed from 170 billion images. The Mountain View home has selected 15 to celebrate Google Maps’ 15th birthday:
Google in 13 years has made great strides regarding the quality of the images of Street View, but everything started with a launch video with a taste, let’s say, questionable.
To celebrate the 15th birthday of its map app, Google has launched an update dedicated to the app for Android and iOS that introduces five tabs:
- Explore: Contains information, ratings and reviews of millions of places around the world, including restaurants, attractions, and points of interest
- Route: to set the daily route with real-time traffic updates, travel times and suggestions on alternative routes
- Saved: allows you to organize all the saved places and share recommendations based on the places visited
- Contributions: collects the contributions provided by the users who use the application (they include details on streets and addresses, missing places, reviews on commercial activities)
- New: a feed with trendy locations; it also allows you to contact commercial businesses directly
After 15 years of honored career, it is also time to change your look with a new icon that reflects the path of change of the service: from a ” simple ” cartographic app to a tool to discover new places.
The news does not end here: an upgrade of the service is already in the pipeline that allows you to be updated on the state of public transport. After the launch of the forecasts on the state of crowding, which took place last year, Google is preparing to add new information, users will indeed be able to report.
The temperature of the public transport
The lines with assistance staff for those with accessibility problems, seats, entrances without architectural barriers and the presence of an accessible call button:
- Cars for women only
- Number of carriages available
Finally, in the coming months, Google will improve the Live View service also introduced in mid-2019. More specifically, the search for the place of destination will be improved with information on distance and direction.