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Your Android is now even safer — and 5 other new features

by Hideaki Oshima on Feb.24, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

It wasn't all that long ago that we introduced Android users to features like Emoji Kitchen and auto-narrated audiobooks. But we like to stay busy, so today we're highlighting six of the latest Google updates that will make Android phones more secure and convenient — for everyone.

1. Keep your accounts safe with Password Checkup on Android

Password Checkup notification screen

Password Checkup notification screen

On Android, you can save passwords to your Google account, making it quicker and easier to sign into your apps and services using Autofill. Your login credentials are one of your first lines of defense against intruders, so we’ve integrated Password Checkup into devices running Android 9 and above. This feature lets you know if the password you used has been previously exposed and what to do about it.


Now when you enter a password into an app on your phone using Autofill with Google, we’ll check those credentials against a list of known compromised passwords — that is, passwords that have potentially already been stolen and posted on the web. If your credentials show up on one of these lists, we’ll alert you and guide you to check your password and change it. 


Learn more on our support page about changing unsafe passwords. And you can find additional information about how this product works in this blog post.


We’re passionate about building defense into every detail on Android, from downloading apps to browsing the web to choosing where and when you share your data. Learn more about how Android keeps you safe.

2. Use schedule send in Messages to write a text now and send it later

Schedule a text to send it at your chosen date and time

Click on the image above to learn how to schedule a text to send at your chosen date and time

Over half a billion people across the world use Messages to seamlessly and safely connect with family, friends and others every month. To continue  improving the way you communicate and help you stay in touch, we’re starting to roll out schedule send in Messages for phones running Android 7 and newer. 


Having loved ones in another time zone or on a different schedule can sometimes make it difficult to send a text at an appropriate time. With schedule send, you can compose a message ahead of time when it’s convenient for you, and schedule it to send at the right moment. Just write your message as you normally would, then hold and press the send button to select a date and time to deliver your message. Download Messages or update to the latest version to schedule your next text.

3. No need to look at your screen, with TalkBack

Start and stop media with Talkback gestures

Click on the image above to see how to start and stop media with Talkback gestures 

For those who are blind or have trouble seeing the display, the new version of TalkBack, Android’s screen reader, is now available. Using spoken feedback and gestures, TalkBack makes Android even more accessible and opens up a full phone experience without needing to look at your screen. We worked closely with the blind and low vision communities on this revamp of TalkBack to incorporate the most popularly requested features including: more intuitive gestures, a unified menu, a new reading control menu and more. Get TalkBack today by downloading or updating your Android accessibility apps in the Google Play Store.

4. Get more done hands-free with Google Assistant

Use Google Assistant to send a text, even when your phone is locked

Use Google Assistant to send a text, even when your phone is locked

We want to give you more ways to use your phone hands-free — so you can do things like use your voice to make calls, set timers or alarms and play music. Now, the latest updates to Google Assistant make it easier to get things done on your phone without needing to be right next to it.


Assistant now works better even when your phone is locked or across the room with new cards that can be read with just a glance. Just say “Hey Google, set an alarm” or “Hey Google, play pop music on Spotify.” To get the most out of Assistant when your phone is locked, simply turn on Lock Screen Personal Results in Assistant setting and say “Hey Google '' to send text messages and make calls.

5. Come to the dark side with dark theme in Google Maps 

San Francisco on Google Maps dark theme

San Francisco on Google Maps dark theme

These days, we’re all experiencing a bit of screen fatigue. With dark theme in Google Maps soon expanding to all Android users globally, you can give your eyes a much-needed break and save on battery life. Simply head to your Settings, tap on Theme and then on “Always in Dark Theme” to lower the lights when you’re navigating, exploring, or getting things done with Maps. Change your mind? Just tap on “Always in Light Theme” to switch it back.

6. A better drive with Android Auto

Stay entertained with voice-activated games on your display with Android Auto

Stay entertained with voice-activated games on your display with Android Auto

Android Auto’s new features help you enjoy the drive more. With custom wallpapers, you can now select from a variety of car-inspired backgrounds to personalize your car display. For longer drives, you and your passengers can stay entertained with voice-activated games like trivia and “Jeopardy!” Just say, “Hey Google, play a game” to get started. 


We’ve also launched shortcuts on the launch screen. These provide convenient access to your contacts and even allow you to use Assistant to complete tasks like checking the weather or remotely adjusting the thermostat by simply tapping on the icon on your car display, just as you would on your phone. For cars with wider screens, you can do more with a split-screen that features a real-time view of Google Maps and media controls. And if you have family and friends coming along for the ride, you can now set a privacy screen to control when Android Auto appears on your car display. 


These Android Auto features will be available in the coming days on phones running Android 6.0 or above, and when connected to your compatible car.

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How one trailblazer uses Maps to explore the outdoors

by Katie McBroom on Feb.24, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Lydia Kluge is an active member of the Google Maps Local Guides community, the everyday people passionate about sharing their experiences on Maps. In 2020, she added more than 1,100 contributions on Google Maps in the form of reviews, photos, and places. Coincidentally, Lydia also hiked, ran, and biked 1,100 miles last year. All those adventures earned her the well-deserved Expert Trailblazer and Expert Fact Finder badges on Google Maps.


But Lydia’s journey has been full of adventures long before 2020. Originally from England, Lydia landed in Utah in 2005 for what was meant to be a six-month stint as a ski instructor. She’s been there ever since after falling in love with (and on) the slopes where she met her now-husband.


Over the past fifteen years, the couple traveled to over 30 countries. Along the way, Lydia used Google Maps to find hidden gems — from the best restaurants in Paris to snorkeling spots in Australia.


In 2019, Lydia and her husband welcomed their beautiful baby girl into their family and couldn’t wait to travel with her. But COVID-19 changed their international jet-setting plans. Like many of us, Lydia’s spending more time closer to home. She’s explored Utah's mountains, deserts, and national and state parks. And, just like in her international travels, Google Maps has been her companion. She’s added and reviewed dozens of nature trails, trailheads, and parks, and created lists of family-friendly activities in Utah. “One thing I've missed about working outside of the home is how I can contribute to others and my community,” Lydia said. “Adding these things to Google Maps is a way I can give back.”


Here are Lydia’s tips on how to use Google Maps to explore natural attractions near you:


Find parks and hiking trails on Google Maps

Search outdoor terms like “hiking trails” or “parks near me” to find nearby treks. For most hiking trails, you’ll be able to find ratings, reviews and photos from other hikers. Some may also have useful details like open hours and phone numbers. You can also use the Lists feature on Google Maps to see curated recommendations, like Lydia’s Things to See and Do in St. George and Food and Fun in Park City. Simply search for a town and scroll down to see Featured Lists.
A photo of a search for hiking trails in Google Maps

Use the search bar in Google Maps to find things to do, like hiking trails nearby or in a specific town or city

Quickly sort through reviews to find popular topics or search for specific words

Lydia leaves detailed reviews on parks and hikes with searchable terms like “family,” “steep,” or “kid-friendly.” Search for specific words to quickly sort through reviews and get a better sense of the place. If you want an idea of what most people are talking about, you can see a list of popular keywords in reviews — from “banana slug” and “poison ivy” to “parking lot” and “sunset.”
An image showing popular topics in Google Maps reviews

You can see what the popular topics are for hikes and places by seeing the most common keywords. Tap a topic to see what people are saying.

Preview your trek with photos

Lydia has left more than 3,500 photos on Google Maps that have been viewed more than 25 million times. To get a sense of what your outdoor trip will look like, browse photos that people like Lydia have uploaded. Sort photos to see the latest, pan through Street View and 360-degree images, and even see videos. Pay it forward to the next trekker and leave photos of what made your hike memorable.
A photo of the castle-like rock formations at Turret Arch in Moab, Utah.

A photo of the castle-like rock formations at Turret Arch in Moab, Utah.

Add and update hiking areas yourself

Some trails may not have  traditional signage and could be hard to find. If you know where an unmarked (or poorly marked) trailhead is, you can confirm that the pin locations are in the appropriate spot. To do so, open your Google Maps app and navigate to the place. Tap “suggest an edit” to update information about the hiking area.
An image of a hiking trail added to Google Maps by Lydia

Lydia added Limber Pine Nature Trail to Google Maps

To follow Lydia’s adventures, check out and follow her Google Maps profile.

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A look at how we tackle fake and fraudulent contributed content

by Dan Pritchett on Feb.19, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

For many of us, Google Maps is the place we go for information about the world around us. We search for businesses, seek directions, check photos and read reviews. 


One way Maps is kept accurate and reliable is through updates that everyday people add. Since we started accepting contributed content in 2010, more than 970 million people have updated Google Maps in the form of reviews, photos, ratings and factual information like addresses and business hours. These contributions allow Google Maps to keep up with the world constantly changing around us and also help people make more informed decisions.


Just as Google Maps is a reflection of the real-world, so are the people that contribute to it. The same neighbor who lends a hand could also be writing witty reviews of local restaurants. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Just as there are bad actors in the real-world, there are those who try to game Google Maps with inappropriate content — the vast majority of which is removed before you see it.


While much of our work to prevent inappropriate content is done behind the scenes, we wanted to share some detail about our investments and progress in keeping Google Maps reliable and trustworthy. 


How we single out the bad actors

Bad actors try to mislead people through a variety of techniques, from fake reviews that attack a business to inauthentic ratings that boost a place’s reputation. Fighting this unhelpful content is a complex, ceaseless battle — one that we rarely detail publicly so as to not tip off scammers to our ever-changing techniques.


One of the best tools we have to fight back is an understanding of what normal, authentic Google Maps usage looks like. For example, we know that the average person is likely to use Google Maps while navigating a commute or road trip, and while searching for nearby restaurants or services. They’ll leave reviews at places they’ve been, and usually add ratings or photos in location-specific clusters.


Observations like these inform our machine learning algorithms, which scan millions of daily contributions. These algorithms detect and remove policy-violating content across a variety of languages, and also scan for signals of abnormal user activity. For instance, they can detect if a new Google Maps account in say, Bangkok, suddenly leaves bad car dealership reviews in Mexico City and 1-star restaurant ratings in Chicago. The policy-violating content is either removed by our automated models or flagged for further review, along with the user account.


We also deploy thousands of trained operators and analysts who help with content evaluations that might be difficult for algorithms, such as understanding reviews with local slang.


Who are the bad actors and how do we stop them? 

Our teams and protections are built to fight two main types of bad actors: content fraudsters and content vandals.


Fraudsters, who are ultimately motivated by money, try to trick people with scams like fake reviews to attract customers or fake listings to generate business leads. To deter them, we preemptively remove opportunities for them to profit off of fake content. 


For example, we have focused efforts on detecting content coming from click farms where fake reviews and ratings are being generated. Through better detection of click farm activity we are making it harder to post fake content cheaply, which ultimately makes it harder for a click farm to sell reviews and make money. And to catch fake business profiles before they appear on Maps, we've strengthened our Google My Business verification processes with new machine learning models that help identify fraudulent engagement. By fighting large-scale efforts to create fake business profiles, we’ve stymied millions of attempts from fraudsters aiming to steal customers from legitimate businesses by crowding them out of search results. 


Then there are content vandals, who may be motivated by social and political events or simply want to leave their mark online. For example, they post fake reviews or edit the names of places to send a message, and they add off-topic photos as pranks.


Content vandalism can be more difficult to tackle as it’s often random. For instance, a teenager who posts an off-topic photo to their high school’s listing on Maps as a joke or someone who left profanity in a nonsensical review.


Impeding content vandals comes down to anticipation and quick reaction. As places become more prone to vandalism, we adjust our defenses. For instance, last year we quickly modified our algorithms to preemptively block racist reviews when we observed anti-Chinese xenophobia associated with COVID-19. To avoid the spread of election-related misinformation, we limited the ability for people to edit the phone numbers, addresses and other information for places like voting sites. And we restricted reviews for certain places where we saw higher rates of policy-violating content, like schools in the U.S. 


Our progress in fighting unwelcome content

With the help of people and technology that closely monitor Maps 24/7, we’re able to take swift action against scammers, ranging from content removal and account suspension to litigation. In 2020 alone, we took the following actions to ensure the content you see in Google Maps is reliable:

  • We blocked or removed 55 million policy-violating reviews and nearly 3 million fake Business Profiles. This is 20 million fewer reviews than we removed in 2019 as we saw a drop in the overall number of reviews due to fewer people being out and about during COVID-19.
  • We took down more than 960,000 reviews and more than 300,000 Business Profiles that were reported to us by Google Maps users. This is an increase over 2019 largely due to increased use of automated moderation which complements the manual review of flagged content performed by operators and analysts.
  • We reviewed and removed more than 160 million photos and 3.5 million videos that either violated our policies or were of low quality. For example, thanks to advancements in our automated systems, we’ve significantly improved our detection of photos that were extremely blurry. This has led to major improvements in the quality of photos on Maps - both new photos added and ones shared in years past. And as we more aggressively targeted bad actors overall, account removals could lead to deletion of all content left by one account, in some cases thousands of photos.
  • Our technologies and teams disabled more than 610,000 user accounts after detecting and investigating suspicious or policy-violating behavior.  
  • We stopped more than 3 million attempts by bad actors to verify Business Profiles on Google that didn’t belong to them.

Content contributed by our users is an important part of how we continue to make Google Maps more helpful and accurate for everyone. As more people share their local knowledge on Google Maps, we’ll continue to invest in the policies, technologies and resources needed to make sure information is reliable.


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All aboard: More ways to pay for parking and transit

by Vishal Dutta on Feb.17, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

People all over the world turn to Google Maps to get things done — especially during the pandemic. From booking an online yoga class to ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant —Google Maps is a powerful sidekick that lets you accomplish tasks all throughout your day. Today, we have new tools in collaboration with Google Pay to help you get more done when you’re on the go: the ability to pay for street parking and transit fares right from Google Maps, without ever taking out your wallet. 


Keep it clean and easy 

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8 ways you can control your Maps experience

by Traci Cappiello on Feb.10, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Today on Safer Internet Day, I’m sharing some handy tips on how you can be more in control of your Google Maps experience and help other people find great places around them.


I’ve been a Google Maps program manager since 2012, and have explained a lot of the features in Maps to our global community of Local Guides, the everyday people who are passionate about sharing their experiences on Google Maps. And I’m a huge Google Maps devotee and superuser myself. Over the last 11(!) years, I’ve posted more than 2,000 reviews and gathered more than 275 million views on my Maps photos. So if there’s a feature in Google Maps, chances are I’ve used it.


From built-in protections in Google Maps to easy-to-use setting and privacy tools, here are 8 tips for features I use that will help you maximize your Maps experience:


1. Manage your Google Maps profile

To keep you in control of your data, Google Maps has built-in settings so you can easily manage and personalize your Google Maps profile. You can update your settingsto not show your reviews, photos, and posts on your public Maps profile. 


2. Easily change your display name

While I’m not a famous restaurant critic or celebrity, I like that I can control when and where I use my last name, so that I’m just “Traci” on Google Maps. You, too, can easily change your display name across Google products and services. Go ahead, pick your nom de plume


3. Respect the privacy of others in photos 

Photos are my absolute favorite way to contribute to Google Maps. One thing I’m always careful to do is to not post photos that show the faces of people nearby. Plus, I’d rather see a place’s decor or accessibility information over a bunch of strangers ;)  


4. Report questionable content

From reviews and ratings to photos and listings, the vast majority of the information other people add to Maps is helpful and accurate. But if you ever come across a review or a business listing that looks odd or inappropriate, you can quickly report the content or the person who posted it.


5. Share your location with your inner circle

Even though I’m not traveling as often as I used to, when I do, I like to share my real-time locationwith my closest friends and family so someone always knows where I am. I also love that they can follow along with my travels when I visit a new country.


6. Manage your Timeline

Timeline is a handy feature in Maps that helps you see places you’ve been if you’ve opted to turn your Location Historysetting on (it’s off by default). With it, I’m able to easily reminisce about past trips (remember traveling?!) and share recommendations with friends and family. With tools like bulk delete and in-line edits, you can easily add, edit or deletethe information in your Timeline with just a few taps. 


7. Easily access key Google Account settings and auto-delete controls

I love that I don’t have to leave Google Maps to control my Google account settings. With Your data in Maps, you can quickly access your Location History, Web & App Activity, and other Google privacy controls, right from Maps. You can also use auto-delete controls to save only 3 or 18 months worth of data - all data older than that is automatically deleted on a rolling basis. 


8. Go Incognito

It can be helpful having personalized experiences across Google products, but if you prefer to fly under the radar, try Incognito mode in Maps. With it, your Maps activity on that device, like the places you search for, won’t be saved to your Google Account or used to personalize your Maps experience. You can easily turn on Incognito mode by selecting it from the menu that appears when you tap your profile photo. And you can turn it off at any time to return to a personalized experience with restaurant recommendations, information about your commute, and other features tailored to you.



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New year, same us: Maps trends on 2021 resolutions

by Joseph Nakoul on Jan.28, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

The beginning of the year is often viewed as a fresh start. But in many ways, January feels like the thirteenth month of 2020! We turned to Google Maps search insights (December 2019-January 2020 vs. December 2020-January 2021) to see how Americans are handling tried-and-true New Year’s resolutions. Find out how common resolutions — like traveling, drinking less, eating better and working out more — are holding up in the midst of COVID-19.

Travel, but make it local

Americans seem to be feeling a sense of wanderlust, but it’s focused more on local travel than it was in January 2020. Last year, Maps searches for international destinations rose by over 65% compared to the previous month – with people searching for warm-weather places like Australia, Costa Rica and the Philippines. This year, January searches for countries outside of one’s hometown stayed flat — increasing by a mere 1%, almost certainly due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In January 2020, Maps searches for island destinations increased by over 40% as people planned for some fun in the sun. This January, those searches are only up by a little over 10% compared to late last year. And searches for local bed and breakfasts have increased by 20%, indicating that Americans are searching for destinations closer to home instead of across the world.

Ski resorts are trending in a big way on Maps – likely because skiing is a socially distant activity with a chilly change of scenery. This January, Maps searches for ski resorts are more than twice as high as they were at the same time last year!

Dry January? Maybe not

Dry January” is consistently one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Last January, searches on Maps for wine shops and liquor stores both plummeted by nearly 40% compared to the previous December. This year, those searches only dropped by 11% and 6% respectively, hinting that people may be less committed to abstaining.

Healthy-ish eating

People are showing an interest in eating healthy. Searches for “healthy” options spiked by 46% at the start of January compared to the previous December. But at the same time there's another trend on the rise: people are also looking for sweets. Searches for ice cream shops are up by 10% compared to December. And, while searches for fast food restaurants plummeted by a whopping 20% in January 2020, they dropped by just 1.5% in 2021.

At-home workouts FTW!

Year-over-year searches for gyms have remained steady, increasing by about 25% in both 2020 and in 2021. However, while searches for hiking areas are still up this month compared to December, they’re significantly lower than they were in 2020 – a 16% increase compared to last year’s 55% increase. This could be due to local restrictions, or because more people are opting for one of the many at-home workout classes available online.

Resolutions or not, Google Maps is here to help. Whether you’re looking for healthy food or pints of ice cream, road trips or workouts you can do on your living room floor, here are some tips to help you keep up (or even break) your resolutions:

  1. Check out how local restaurants are operating: Before heading out of the house, use Google Maps to see if restaurants are offering things like dine-in services, takeout, or delivery. You can also see information about the extra safety precautions that restaurants are taking — like whether they have plexiglass at checkout or take guests’ temperatures upon arrival. 
  2. Track your order (so your ice cream doesn’t melt!): It’s tough to get the timing right for takeout and delivery orders – and no one likes cold entrees or soupy ice cream. If you order food on Google Maps, you can now see the status of your order on your Google Maps app homepage so you know exactly when it’s ready for pickup or set to arrive at your doorstep.
  3. Borrow a bike: If stationary bikes aren’t your thing, check out Google Maps to find your nearest docked bikeshare location. Maps can give you walking directions to the bike, and cycling directions to your final destination – so you can explore the outdoors by foot and on two wheels!
  4. Take an online class: Whether you’re looking to workout more, connect with a financial advisor or pick up a new hobby, use Maps to find local businesses that offer online classes and appointments that you can take right from the comfort of your own home.
  5. Plan your next road trip: Travel restrictions are still up in the air, which means you might not be. If you’re itching to sightsee beyond your route to the grocery store, follow other Google Maps users to get their updates and recommendations directly in your app! Local Guides — like Denise Barlock who lives in a RV motorhome and travels across the U.S. — share regular contributions to Maps and can be great resources for planning a trip!


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Charge it up: New Maps features for electric vehicles

by Alex Donaldson on Jan.28, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity. Still, planning a road trip with charge stops on route can feel like solving a puzzle. With an EV, you need to find recharging stations within range that also have your specific plug type and can recharge you as quickly as you need. 

To take the guesswork out of trip planning and recharging, we’re rolling out three new features for EVs with Google Maps built in.

Taking the stress out of EV route planning

Newly developed routing algorithms that use a type of math called graph theory serve up stress-free routes and charging stop recommendations in the latest release of Google Maps that’s built into participating EVs, including the Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge. 

Now when you enter a destination that requires two or more recharge stops, algorithms in Maps will search and filter through tens to thousands of public charging stations to find the most efficient route — all in less than 10 seconds. You can see how long each charge will take and your updated total trip time, so your final ETA will never again be a mystery.

Image of Google Maps built in to an electric vehicle showing that you can add a stop to charge the vehicle on route to Yosemite Falls Trailhead.

 Add a charging stop to your route before you start your journey.

Hit the road with confidence

For shorter trips where only one charge is needed, like a Saturday hike or weekend getaway, you can select a charging station that best fits your needs from a list of recharge points in Google Maps.

You can see which charging stations are the fastest and select specific stations if you have a membership. You can also see if a charging spot is close to a grocery store or coffee shop, so you can knock out errands or recharge yourself with a latte while you wait.

Image showing Google Maps built in to an electric vehicle and the option to see what charging station is right on route to Santa Cruz Beach.

See which charging station is right for you.

The road ahead

In Europe we know it can be harder to find charging stations that will take your preferred form of payment. So Google Maps will show you what payment methods are accepted at stations in 12 countries throughout Europe, with more on the way.

These new features are now rolling out for cars with Google Maps built in — currently the Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge — with more car models to come.

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How we’re helping get vaccines to more people

by Sundar Pichai on Jan.25, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on communities worldwide. While there is much uncertainty still ahead, the development of multiple safe vaccines in such a short time gives us reason for hope. Now the work begins to ensure that everyone can benefit from this triumph of scientific achievement, and quickly.


During the pandemic, Google has helped people get the information they need to keep their families safe and healthy. We’ve supported small businesses and partnered with Apple to build exposure notification technology to fight the spread of COVID-19 around the world. Now, as public health authorities ramp up vaccination efforts, we’re finding more ways to help. 


We recognize that getting vaccines to people is a complex problem to solve, and we’re committed to doing our part. Today we’re announcing that we’re providing more than $150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable distribution and making it easier to find locally relevant information, including when and where to get the vaccine. We’ll also be opening up Google spaces to serve as vaccination sites as needed. 

$150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable access 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve helped more than 100 government agencies and global non-governmental organizations run critical public service health announcements through our Ad Grants Crisis Relief program. Today, we’re announcing an additional $100 million in ad grants for the CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization, and nonprofits around the globe. We’ll invest another $50 million in partnership with public health agencies to reach underserved communities with vaccine-related content and information.


Our efforts will focus heavily on equitable access to vaccines. Early data in the U.S. shows that disproportionately affected populations, especially people of color and those in rural communities, aren’t getting access to the vaccine at the same rates as other groups. To help, Google.org has committed $5 million in grants to organizations addressing racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations, including Morehouse School of Medicine’sSatcher Health Leadership Institute and the CDC Foundation.

Highlighting authoritative information and local vaccination sites on Search & Maps

To help find accurate and timely information on vaccines, we’ve expanded our information panels on Search to more than 40 countries and dozens of languages, with more rolling out in the coming week. We’ll begin showing state and regional distribution information on Search so people can easily find when they are eligible to receive a vaccine. Soon we’ll launch a “Get The Facts'' initiative across Google and YouTube to get authoritative information out to the public about vaccines. 


Searches for “vaccines near me” have increased 5x since the beginning of the year and we want to make sure we’re providing locally relevant answers. In the coming weeks, COVID-19 vaccination locations will be available in Google Search and Maps, starting with Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, with more states and countries to come. We’ll include details like whether an appointment or referral is required, if access is limited to specific groups, or if it has a drive-through. We’re working with partners like VaccineFinder.org, an initiative of Boston Children's Hospital, and other authoritative sources, such as government agencies and retail pharmacies, to gather vaccination location information and make it available.


Two phones displaying the locations of vaccination sites in Search and Maps results

Search and Maps will soon show vaccination sites with important details

Opening our spaces for vaccination clinics 

To help with vaccination efforts, starting in the United States, we’ll make select Google facilities—such as buildings, parking lots and open spaces—available as needed. These sites will be open to anyone eligible for the vaccine based on state and local guidelines. We’ll start by partnering with health care provider One Medicaland public health authorities to open sites in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area in California; Kirkland, Washington; and New York City, with plans to expand nationally. We’re working with local officials to determine when sites can open based on local vaccine availability. 

Using our technology to improve vaccine distribution 

Google Cloud is helping healthcare organizations, retail pharmacies, logistics companies, and public sector institutions make use of innovative technologies to speed up delivery of vaccines. For example, logistics companies are using our AI to optimize trucking operations by adapting to traffic or inclement weather, and detect temperature fluctuations during transport. Once vaccines reach their destination, our tools help facilitate pre-screening, scheduling, and follow up. And our Intelligent Vaccine Impact Platform is helping states like New York and North Carolina manage distribution and forecast where vaccines, personal protective equipment, and hospital staffing will be most needed.


The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected every community all over the world. It’s also inspired coordination between public and private sectors, and across international borders, on a remarkable scale. We can’t slow down now. Getting vaccines to billions of people won’t be easy, but it’s one of the most important problems we’ll solve in our lifetimes. Google will continue to support in whatever way we can.

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Take a snowy stroll with Street View

by Anne Teeka on Dec.18, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Every year when it gets colder outside, 
I find myself waiting at the window wide-eyed. 
I see wind and some rain, and I sometimes see ice, 
But there’s one particular weather pattern that’s so seasonally nice. 

It can be fluffy or sticky, and it’s often bright white,
And it’s usually the cause of a most festive fight. 
When the temperature drops and the clouds look just so, 
I pull out my ski jacket and get ready for—yes!—snow!

Now if you look outside and see no snowflakes in sight, 
I have a travel solution that requires no flights: 
You can journey to snowy lands all over the globe, 
Use Google Maps Street View—you can even wear your bathrobe. 

Visit this street in Norway, and imagine you hear, 
The pitter-patter of strolling reindeer.

Then some miles south in Nuuksio, Finland
You’ll see perfect snow that the Northern Lights skim.

Staying in Europe but moving farther east
On a winter wonderland, your eyes will feast!

When you’re ready, we’ll head west to France
And watch skiers fly down the snow in their dance.

Now if you thought things already looked cold,
Just wait until you check out the actual South Pole.

Things are much warmer for these monkeys in Japan
They’ve got themselves a hot tub, all they need is a tan.

Thanks for joining me here, and listening to my poem,
Or perhaps, given the subject, you could call it a snow-em.

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How location helps provide more relevant search results

by Danny Sullivan on Dec.17, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

There are many factors that play a role in providing helpful results when you search for something on Google. These factors help us rank or order results and can include the words of your query, the relevance or usability of web pages in our index, and the expertise of sources.

Location is another important factor to provide relevant Search results. It helps you find the nearest coffee shop when you need a pick-me-up, traffic predictions along your route, and even important emergency information for your area. In this post, we’ll share details about the vital role that location plays in generating great search results.

Finding businesses and services in your community

It’s a Friday night. You’re hungry and want some pizza delivered. If Google couldn’t consider location in search ranking, our results might display random pizza restaurants that are nowhere near you. With location information, we can better ensure you’re getting webpages and business listings about pizza places that are local and relevant to you.

The same is true for many types of businesses and services with physical locations, such as banks, post offices, restaurants or stores. Consider two people who search for zoos—one in Omaha, Nebraska and the other in Mobile, Alabama. Location information helps both get the right local information that they need:

Searches for "zoos" in Omaha, Nebraska and Mobile, Alabama

Same query, different local contexts

Location can matter even when you’re searching for something that doesn’t necessarily have a physical location. For example, a search for “air quality” in San Diego, California versus Tulsa, Oklahoma might lead you to pages with local information relevant to each area.

Searches for “air quality” in San Diego, California and Tulsa, Oklahoma

Similarly, certain information in Search can be more useful if it’s specific to your city or neighborhood. If you were to search Google for “parking information,” you might see information about municipal codes and parking enforcement for your local area that would differ from what someone else might see in another city. 

Local information in search results can also be helpful in an emergency. If you search for “hurricane,” our Crisis Response features can show you local shelter information if there’s a hurricane close by, rather than just generic information about what a hurricane is.

Of course, just because some searches have local results, it’s not the case that everyone gets completely different results just because they are in different cities (or even different countries). If a search topic has no local aspect to it, there won’t be local results shown. If there is, we’ll show a mix of local results that are relevant to particular places along with non-local results that are generally useful.

How location works at Google

You might be wondering how location works at Google. Google determines location from a few different sources, and then uses this information to deliver more relevant experiences when it will be more helpful for people. Learn more about the different ways we may understand location in the video below as well as how to manage your data in a way that works best for you on our help center page about location and Search

Location is a critical part of how Google is able to deliver the most relevant and helpful search results possible—whether you need emergency information in a snap, or just some late-night pizza delivered. For more under-the-hood information, check out our How Search Works series. 

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