Google Maps improvements benefit pedestrians and drivers alike

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The more than a billion people who use Google Maps every month will see a marked improvement in navigation app performance, Liz Reid said Google’s VP of Engineering at Tuesday’s I / O conference. Specifically, users will have five new features to look forward to.

First, Google, in collaboration with researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has come up with a way to prevent drivers from applying the brakes in unexpected traffic, using a combination of machine learning and navigational information. “Each time you get directions in Maps, we calculate multiple route options to your destination based on a variety of factors, such as how many lanes a road has and how direct a route is,” Oren Naim, Google Maps product director, wrote Tuesday. “With this update, we take the fastest routes and determine which one is likely to reduce the chance of a hard braking moment.”

Live View will also see some improvements soon. First, the detailed street maps feature, which debuted last August, will make its way to 50 other cities for the rest of this year. Detailed Street provides a variety of useful information for pedestrians, such as sidewalk widths, street crossings, and street island locations, as well as details about nearby businesses.

Speaking of businesses, Google announced Tuesday that it is expanding its live “crowds” information, traditionally reserved for individual shop windows, to the neighborhood level. “If it’s a Saturday morning and you want to explore your city without the crowds getting in your way, open Maps to instantly see crowded hot spots to avoid, such as the streets near the local farmers’ market,” wrote Naim. Really, the system is generally getting smarter. For example, if you are now looking for a nearby place to grab a bite on a Tuesday at 8am, Maps will no longer suggest places that are only open for lunch or dinner, popular brunch spots will be out right away (because it’s Tuesday).

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These new features will be rolled out to Android and iOS Google apps in the coming months.

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