My Google Map Blog

Archive for May, 2021

Plan and find your way in stations with new, accessible Maps tools

by Ramesh Nagarajan on May.26, 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

Train stations are often busy, bustling places. Whether you’re reaching your final stop or catching a connection, finding your way through a complex or crowded station can be daunting. And for people traveling with wheelchairs, luggage, prams or crutches, there are even more factors to juggle.

In 2018, we brought wheelchair accessible routes to Sydney and other cities around the world. To build on this, we’ve been working with Transport for NSW to help people map out each stage of the journey inside the station. 

To help people map out their journeys ahead of time, we’re launching indoor Street View imagery for 130 train stations and a dozen metro stations in Sydney. Starting today, you’ll be able to virtually navigate interactive, panoramic imagery inside Sydney stations, so you’ll know your way when you get there. You can also enjoy the rich history and beauty of many stations, from heritage listed St James Station, to the stunning views of Circular Quay and Milsons Point – and the thriving hub of Parramatta


For the first time in Australia, we’re also bringing detailed navigation directions for accessible routes across 70 complex train and metro stations across Sydney to Google Maps. These tools allow people to find the best and most accessible entrances, exits, signage and paths within the station and better anticipate in-transit travel times along these pathways.

A GIF showing accessible navigation directions for a Sydney route on Google Maps in desktop view

Accessible navigation directions on Google Maps on desktop

And as a world first, we’re sharing these navigation directions with Transport for NSW so it can be published to the NSW government’s Open Data Portal. This will allow the transport industry and app developers to access this valuable information and find more solutions to enable accessible transit travel in the future.

To find these accessible navigation directions for your route on desktop or mobile, type your destination into Google Maps. Tap “Directions”, then select the public transport icon and any route options (such as “wheelchair accessible”, “fewer transfers” and “less walking”).  After you tap your chosen route, the detailed navigation instructions will be displayed if your route takes you through a complex station in Sydney.   

Screengrab of a mobile view of accessible in-station directions in Sydney

 Accessible in-station directions in mobile view

Whether you are planning or navigating your commute, we hope these tools make Sydney stations feel a little more familiar – and help you commute with more confidence.


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Street by street: How we’re mapping air quality in Europe

by Karin Tuxen-Bettman on May.26, 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

Since 2015, dozens of Street View cars outfitted with pollution sensors have been cruising the roads to track air quality in cities all over the world — from Oakland to Sydney. Over the past six years, these cars have collected more than 100 million street-by-street air quality measurements, all for Project Air View — our effort to bring detailed air quality maps to scientists, policymakers and everyday people. These hyperlocal air quality measurements are helping governments and communities make more informed choices about changes that can help city residents breathe cleaner air.


In celebration of EU Green Week next week,we are sharing a new air quality map for Copenhagen and recently started working with the City of Dublin to collect air quality measurements with Aclima technology in our first-ever, all-electric Street View car. This is all part of Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), our free tool that provides thousands of cities with actionable data and insights to reduce their emissions.


Capturing air quality in Copenhagen

In 2018, we started mapping hyperlocal air quality in Copenhagen, working closely with the City of Copenhagen and Utrecht University, in collaboration with Aarhus University. The map — which is already being put to use —  includes measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), black carbon, and ultrafine particles. Through mapping street-by-street air quality we found that Copenhagen’s major access roads have nearly three times more ultrafine particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and five times higher black carbon levels when compared to less trafficked residential areas.
This air quality map shows the street-by-street average of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Utrecht University & Google, 2021.

This air quality map shows the street-by-street average of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Utrecht University & Google, 2021.

Armed with these air quality insights, the City of Copenhagen and urban planners are working to design future neighborhoods that include “Thrive Zones.” These zones aim to build places, like schools and playgrounds, away from high-pollution zones to provide young children with access to cleaner air. The city also plans to use the air quality data to encourage more sustainable transportation and create healthier bicycle and walking routes away from car traffic.


An all-electric Street View car hits the road in Dublin

We’ve also partnered with the City of Dublin to gather hyperlocal air quality measurements in Ireland’s capital, where our first all-electric Street View vehicle, a Jaguar I-PACE, has hit the roads. This is the first time an all-electric Google Street View car is being used to capture air pollution and greenhouse gas measurements and Google Street View imagery — a feat made possible due to Jaguar Land Rover engineers integrating Google's Street View technology and specialized Aclima sensors into the vehicle.

Our Jaguar I-PACE is able to measure nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitric oxide (NO), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and ozone (O3). Aclima’s platform analyzes and quality assures pollution measurements to develop these maps.


The road ahead

Project Air View’s air quality insights will be integrated into the European Commission-funded  European Expanse project, which is exploring how pollution is impacting the health of Europeans and how hyperlocal air quality measurement efforts can inform policy development.


We also plan to equip more Street View cars with air quality mapping capabilities so that we can continue sharing hyperlocal air quality insights. By mapping air quality in more cities, we can equip people with the information they need to create more sustainable cities that protect the health of everyone.


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16 updates from Google I/O that’ll make your life easier

by Keyword Team on May.21, 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

Part of our mission is to help make your daily life easier. At I/O this year, we shared news about a wide range of products and services that’ll do just that, from starting your car with your phone to searching your screenshots using Google Lens. Here are just a few of the features you should keep an eye out for. 

Quickly view your notifications, invoke Google Assistant on Android.

Android 12 includes the biggest design change since 2014. We rethought the entire experience, from the colors to the shapes, light and motion, and made it easier to access some of the most used features:

  • To invoke Google Assistant wherever you are, long press the power button.
  • Swipe down to view your new notification shade, an at-a-glance view of all your app notifications in one place.
  • And to make it easier to access everything you need, Google Pay and Device Controls have been added to your customizable quick settings.

Learn about all the big changes in Android 12.

Manage your privacy settings more easily on Android.

On top of the new design changes, we’ve also launched a new Privacy Dashboard, giving you easy access to your permissions settings, visibility into what data is being accessed and the ability to revoke permissions on the spot. You also have new indicators that let you know when apps are using your microphone and camera, as well as a way to quickly shut off that access. And we’ve added new microphone and camera toggles into quick settings so you can easily remove app access to these sensors for the entire system. Learn about new privacy controls in Android 12.

Change the channel with your phone.

Lost your TV remote? Don’t sweat it — we’re building remote-control features directly into your Android phone. Another bonus: If you need to enter a long password to log into one of your many streaming services subscriptions, you can save time and use your phone’s keyboard to enter the text. This built-in remote control will be compatible with devices powered by Android TV OS, including Google TV, and it’ll roll out later this year. Learn more about how we’re helping your devices work better together.

GIF of a user typing a password onto a phone and that password appearing on a TV screen

Use your phone to enter your password for your streaming services.

And unlock your car with your phone while you’re at it.

We’re working with car manufacturers to develop a new digital car key in Android 12. This feature will enable you to use your phone to lock, unlock and even start your car — and in some cases you won’t even need to take it out of your pocket. And because it’s digital, you’ll also be able to securely and remotely share your car key with friends and family if needed. Read more about Android Auto.

Understand more about your Search results.

When you’re looking up information online, it’s important to check  how credible a source is, especially if you aren’t familiar with the website. Our About This Result feature in Google Search provides details about a website before you visit it, including its description, when it was first indexed and whether your connection to the site is secure. This month, we’ll start rolling out About This Result to all English results worldwide, with more languages to come. And later this year, we’re going to add even more helpful contextual details — like how the site describes itself, what other sources are saying about it and related articles to check out.

Change your password using Chrome and Assistant.

Chrome on Android will help you change your passwords with a simple click. On supported sites, whenever you check your passwords and Chrome finds a password that may have been compromised,  you will see a "Change password" button from Assistant.  Powered by Duplex on the Web, Assistant will not only navigate to the site, but actually go through the entire process of changing your password for you.  This feature is already available for purchasing movie tickets, ordering food, and checking into flights.  

Use Google Lens to translate your homework into a language you’re more comfortable with.

Google Lens enables you to search what you see — from your camera, your photos and even your search bar. For a lot of students, their schoolwork might be in a language they’re not as comfortable with. That’s why we’re updating the Translate filter in Lens, making it easy to copy, listen to or search translated text in over 100 languages. Learn more about how information comes to life with Lens and AR.

And search your screenshots with Google Lens.

Lots of people take screenshots of things they’re interested in buying — but it can be hard to follow up on those screenshots afterward. Now when you look at any screenshot in Google Photos, we’ll prompt you to search the photo with Lens. This will help you find that pair of shoes or wallpaper pattern that you liked so much. 

A GIF demonstrating using Google Lens to search a screen shot of a basketball player, returning results for his shoes

Search your screenshots using Google Lens.

When shopping online, keep track of your open carts when you open a new tab.

Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You’ve got a browser open to do some online shopping, but then you get distracted and open up two, three, or 10 other windows — and you forget what you were online to do in the first place. We’re introducing a new feature in Chrome that shows you your open carts when you open a new tab. No more lost shopping carts here.

And get the best value for products you’re buying online.

Coming soon, we’ll let you link your favorite loyalty programs from merchants like Sephora to your Google account to show you the best purchase options across Google. Learn more about all our latest shopping updates.

Explore unfamiliar neighborhoods with more detailed views in Maps.

If you’re traveling by foot, augmented reality in Live View will show you helpful details about the shops and restaurants around you – including how busy they are, and recent reviews and photos. And if you’re traveling, Live View will tell you where you are relative to your hotel – so you can always find your way back. 

Avoid the crowds with area busyness.

Maps already shows the busyness of specific places — in fact, more than 80 million people use the live busyness information on Google every day. Now we’re expanding that functionality to show the busyness of an entire area, allowing you to see just how bustling a neighborhood or part of town is at any given moment. This means that if you want to keep things low-key, you can use Maps to see the hotspots to avoid. And if you’re looking for the most popular places to visit, you can use area busyness to scope out the liveliest neighborhoods at a glance.

See breakfast spots in the morning and dinner joints at night. 

We’re updating Maps to show you more relevant information based on what time of day it is and whether you’re traveling. That means we’ll show you things like coffee shops in the morning, when you need that caffeine fix, and burger joints at night, when you’re hungry for dinner. And if you’re on a weekend getaway, we’ll make tourist attractions and local landmarks easier to spot. Learn more about our latest updates to Maps

Discover unexpected Memories in Photos.

Starting later this summer, when we find a set of three or more photos with similarities like shape or color, we'll highlight these little patterns for you in your Memories. For example, Photos might surface a pattern of your family hanging out on the same couch over the years — something you wouldn’t have ever thought to search for, but that tells a deeply meaningful story about your daily life. Learn more about Little patterns in Photos.

Bring your pictures to life with Cinematic moments.

When you’re trying to get the perfect photo, you usually take the same shot two or three (or twenty) times. Using neural networks, we can take two nearly identical images and fill in the gaps by creating new frames in between. This creates vivid, moving images called Cinematic moments. Producing this effect from scratch would take professional animators hours, but with machine learning we can automatically generate these moments and bring them to your Recent Highlights. Learn more about Cinematic moments.

A GIF showing two similar pictures of a child and his baby sibling being converted into a moving image.

Cinematic moments will bring your photos to life.

Transform how you work with smart canvas in Google Workspace. 

As part of our mission to build the future of work, we’re launching smart canvas, a bunch of exciting updates across Docs, Sheets and Meet. New features include interactive building blocks—smart chips, templates, and checklists—as well as a new pageless format in Docs and emoji reactions. We're also bringing Meet closer to Docs, Sheets and Slides, and much more. See all of the big updates to Google Workspace.

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How anyone can make Maps more accessible

by Mara Chomsky on May.20, 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

With Google Maps, we want to make it easier to get around, explore and get things done for everyone  — and that includes people with disabilities. One way that we make sure our Maps have up-to-date information about details, like if a restaurant has tables suitable for people who use wheelchairs, is through our community of Local Guides. In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’re sharing tips from some of these people about how anyone can contribute to a more accessible world — both on and off of the map.

Make an accessibility checklist for your reviews

When you add a review on Google Maps you can create your own template or accessibility checklist to make sure you have the most helpful details covered.

Tushar Suradkar, a Local Guide from India, created a system that helps him make sure all of his reviews covers the accessibility details he cares about — like if a place has tactile paths for the visually impaired, ramp access, and wheelchair-accessible entrances, restrooms, parking and elevators. Each time he leaves a review, he fills in a self-created template that makes these details clear and noticeable so people looking for this information can spot it.
A screenshot of a review on Google Maps from Local Guide Tushar Suradkar showing his accessibility checklist.

Tushar’s accessibility checklist used on Google Maps reviews.

Add accessibility attributes to your business or places you’ve visited

After visiting a place or business, you can help indicate which accessibility features a place has — like whether it has a wheelchair-accessible entrance, wheelchair-accessible restroom, wheelchair-accessible parking — by answering questions about the business on the Google Maps app.  


And if you’re a business owner or manager with a verified Business Profile on Google, you can add attributes to your Business Profile on Search and Maps. In addition to existing accessibility attributes, we recently added the assistive hearing loop attribute that indicates if somewhere, like a movie theater or library, has a sound system that is compatible with hearing aids. If attributes aren’t relevant to your business, you have even more ways you can make your business more accessible by using tools such as Live Transcribe, Live Caption, and TalkBack on Android.
A screenshot of Google Maps showing the accessibility attributes for a business.

Accessibility attributes displayed on Google Maps.

Create lists to curate accessible places on Google Maps

Another way to share local knowledge is by creating public lists on Google Maps. You can make lists of places like accessible museums in your city or the most wheelchair accessible restaurants in your neighborhood.  

Asongfac Lily Rospeen, a Local Guide from the Southwest region of Cameroon, curates lists like her Accessibility Buea list that includes wheelchair accessible banks, hotels, hospitals, bookshops, pharmacies, and supermarkets in her city.

Spread the word about accessibility 

Let others know about all the ways they can contribute to Maps to make it more accessible through attributes, reviews and more. Take inspiration from the Local Guides community. 

Emeka Ulor, a Local Guide from Nigeria, has rallied other people to add accessibility data to Google Maps and help make it more inclusive. He started the One Accessibility project, recruiting more than 20 volunteers and hosting more than 100 meet-ups to encourage people to add accessibility information to Google Maps. His reviews include information about wheelchair accessible parking, entrances, restrooms, lighting, Braille and seating to help inform people about the accessibility of their destination.

You can read more about these Local Guides and how others in the community are making Google Maps more accessible on Connect, our blog and forum for Local Guides.
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Search, explore and shop the world’s information, powered by AI

by Prabhakar Raghavan on May.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

AI advancements push the boundaries of what Google products can do. Nowhere is this clearer than at the core of our mission to make information more accessible and useful for everyone.

We've spent more than two decades developing not just a better understanding of information on the web, but a better understanding of the world. Because when we understand information, we can make it more helpful — whether you’re a remote student learning a complex new subject, a caregiver looking for trusted information on COVID vaccines or a parent searching for the best route home.

Deeper understanding with MUM

One of the hardest problems for search engines today is helping you with complex tasks — like planning what to do on a family outing. These often require multiple searches to get the information you need. In fact, we find that it takes people eight searches on average to complete complex tasks.

With a new technology called Multitask Unified Model, or MUM, we're able to better understand much more complex questions and needs, so in the future, it will require fewer searches to get things done. Like BERT, MUM is built on a Transformer architecture, but it’s 1,000 times more powerful and can multitask in order to unlock information in new ways. MUM not only understands language, but also generates it. It’s trained across 75 different languages and many different tasks at once, allowing it to develop a more comprehensive understanding of information and world knowledge than previous models. And MUM is multimodal, so it understands information across text and images and in the future, can expand to more modalities like video and audio.

Imagine a question like: “I’ve hiked Mt. Adams and now want to hike Mt. Fuji next fall, what should I do differently to prepare?” This would stump search engines today, but in the future, MUM could understand this complex task and generate a response, pointing to highly relevant results to dive deeper. We’ve already started internal pilots with MUM and are excited about its potential for improving Google products.

Information comes to life with Lens and AR

People come to Google to learn new things, and visuals can make all the difference. Google Lens lets you search what you see — from your camera, your photos or even your search bar. Today we’re seeing more than 3 billion searches with Lens every month, and an increasingly popular use case is learning. For example, many students might have schoolwork in a language they aren't very familiar with. That’s why we’re updating the Translate filter in Lens so it’s easy to copy, listen to or search translated text, helping students access education content from the web in over 100 languages.

Animated GIF showing Google Lens’s Translate filter applied to homework.

AR is also a powerful tool for visual learning. With the new AR athletes in Search, you can see signature moves from some of your favorite athletes in AR — like Simone Biles’s famous balance beam routine.

Animated GIF showing Simone Biles’s balance beam routine surfaced by the AR athletes in Search feature.

Evaluate information with About This Result 

Helpful information should be credible and reliable, and especially during moments like the pandemic or elections, people turn to Google for trustworthy information. 

Our ranking systems are designed to prioritize high-quality information, but we also help you evaluate the credibility of sources, right in Google Search. Our About This Result feature provides details about a website before you visit it, including its description, when it was first indexed and whether your connection to the site is secure. 

Animated GIF showing the About This Result features applied to the query "How to invest in ETFs."

This month, we’ll start rolling out About This Result to all English results worldwide, with more languages to come. Later this year, we’ll add even more detail, like how a site describes itself, what other sources are saying about it and related articles to check out. 

Exploring the real world with Maps

Google Maps transformed how people navigate, explore and get things done in the world — and we continue to push the boundaries of what a map can be with industry-first features like AR navigation in Live View at scale. We recently announced we’re on track to launch over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps by the end of year, and today, we’re introducing a few of the newest ones. Our new routing updates are designed to reduce the likelihood of hard-braking on your drive using machine learning and historical navigation information — which we believe could eliminate over 100 million hard-braking events in routes driven with Google Maps each year.

If you’re looking for things to do, our more tailored map will spotlight relevant places based on time of day and whether or not you’re traveling. Enhancements to Live View and detailed street maps will help you explore and get a deep understanding of an area as quickly as possible. And if you want to see how busy neighborhoods and parts of town are, you’ll be able to do this at a glance as soon as you open Maps.

More ways to shop with Google 

People are shopping across Google more than a billion times per day, and our AI-enhanced Shopping Graph — our deep understanding of products, sellers, brands, reviews, product information and inventory data — powers many features that help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Because shopping isn’t always a linear experience, we’re introducing new ways to explore and keep track of products. Now, when you take a screenshot, Google Photos will prompt you to search the photo with Lens, so you can immediately shop for that item if you want. And on Chrome, we’ll help you keep track of shopping carts you’ve begun to fill, so you can easily resume your virtual shopping trip. We're also working with retailers to surface loyalty benefits for customers earlier, to help inform their decisions.

Last year we made it free for merchants to sell their products on Google. Now, we’re introducing a new, simplified process that helps Shopify’s 1.7 million merchants make their products discoverable across Google in just a few clicks.  

Whether we’re understanding the world’s information, or helping you understand it too, we’re dedicated to making our products more useful every day. And with the power of AI, no matter how complex your task, we’ll be able to bring you the highest quality, most relevant results. 

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A smoother ride and a more detailed Map thanks to AI

by Russell Dicker on May.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

AI is a critical part of what makes Google Maps so helpful. With it, we’re able to map roads over 10 times faster than we could five years ago, and we can bring maps filled with useful information to virtually every corner of the world. Today, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how AI makes two of the features we announced at I/O possible.

Teaching Maps to identify and forecast when people are hitting the brakes

Let’s start with our routing update that helps you avoid situations that cause you to slam on the brakes, such as confusing lane changes or freeway exits. We use AI and navigation information to identify hard-braking events — moments that cause drivers to decelerate sharply and are known indicators of car crash likelihood — and then suggest alternate routes when available. We believe these updates have the potential to eliminate over 100 million hard-braking events in routes driven with Google Maps each year. But how exactly do we find when and where these moments are likely to occur?


That’s where AI comes in. To do this, we train our machine learning models on two sets of data. The first set of information comes from phones using Google Maps. Mobile phone sensors can determine deceleration along a route, but this data is highly prone to false alarms because your phone can move independently of your car. This is what makes it hard for our systems to decipher you tossing your phone into the cupholder or accidentally dropping it on the floor from an actual hard-braking moment. To combat this, we also use information from routes driven with Google Maps when it's projected on a car’s display, like Android Auto. This represents a relatively small subset of data, but it’s highly accurate because Maps is now tethered to a stable spot — your car display. Training our models on both sets of data makes it possible to spot actual deceleration moments from fake ones, making detection across all trips more accurate. 


Understanding spots along a route that are likely to cause hard-braking is just one part of the equation. We’re also working to identify other contextual factors that lead to hard-braking events, like construction or visibility conditions. For example, if there’s a sudden increase in hard-braking events along a route during a certain time of day when people are likely to be driving toward the glare of the sun, our system could detect those events and offer alternate routes. These details inform future routing so we can suggest safer, smoother routes.

Using AI to go beyond driving

When you’re walking or biking or taking public transit, AI is also there helping you move along safely and easily. Last August we launched detailed street maps which show accurate road widths, along with details about where the sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian islands are in an area so people can better understand its layout and how to navigate it. Today, we announced that detailed street maps will expand to 50 more cities by the end of 2021. While this sounds straightforward, a lot is going on under the hood — especially with AI — to make this possible! 

A GIF that shows a before and after comparison of detailed streets maps built from satellite imagery

A before and after comparison of detailed streets maps built from satellite imagery

Imagine that you’re taking a stroll down a typical San Francisco street. As you approach the intersection, you’ll notice that the crosswalk uses a “zebra” pattern — vertical stripes that show you where to walk. But if you were in another city, say London, then parallel dotted lines would define the crosswalks. To account for these differences and accurately display them on the map, our systems need to know what crosswalks look like — not just in one city but across the entire world. It gets even trickier since urban design can change at the country, state, and even city level.

To expand globally and account for local differences, we needed to completely revamp our mapmaking process. Traditionally, we’ve approached mapmaking like baking a cake — one layer at a time. We trained machine learning models to identify and classify features one by one across our index of millions of Street View, satellite and aerial images — starting first with roads, then addresses, buildings and so on. 

But detailed street maps require significantly more granularity and precision than a normal map. To map these dense urban features correctly, we’ve updated our models to identify all objects in a scene at once. This requires a ton of AI smarts. The model has to understand not only what the objects are, but the relationships between them — like where exactly a street ends and a sidewalk begins. With these new full-scene models, we're able to detect and classify broad sets of features at a time without sacrificing accuracy, allowing us to map a single city faster than ever before. 


An image of Google Maps’ single-feature AI models

Single-feature AI model that classifies buildings.

An image of Google Maps’ full-scene AI models

Full-scene AI models that capture multiple categories of objects at once.


Once we have a model trained on a particular city, we can then expand it to other cities with similar urban designs. For example, the sidewalks, curbs, and traffic lights look similar in Atlanta and Ho Chi Minh City — despite being over 9,000 miles away. And the same model works in Madrid as it does in Dallas, something that may be hard to believe at first glance. With our new advanced machine learning techniques combined with our collection of high-definition imagery, we’re on track to bring a level of detail to the map at scale like never before.

AI will continue to play an important role as we build the most helpful map for people around the globe. For more behind-the-scenes looks at the technology that powers Google Maps, check out the rest of our Maps 101 blog series.

More from this Series

Maps 101

Google Maps helps you navigate, explore, and get things done every single day. In this series, we’ll take a look under the hood at how Google Maps uses technology to build helpful products—from using flocks of sheep and laser beams to gather high-definition imagery to predicting traffic jams that haven’t even happened yet.

View more from Maps 101
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Get around and explore with 5 new Google Maps updates

by Oren Naim on May.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

From the very beginning, we built Google Maps to help you connect with the real world. In 2007, we introduced Street View, the first imagery platform to show you panoramic views of streets all over the world — from Tokyo to Tonga. A year later, we let you throw away your printed directions and get real-time navigation directly from your phone. And three years ago, we were the first to launch Live View and bring AR to navigation at scale. Thanks to our deep knowledge about the world and powerful AI advancements, we’ve spent the last 16 years bringing helpful information and experiences just like these to the map. Today at Google I/O, we’re announcing five new updates so you can more easily navigate, explore and get things done.  

Reduce hard-braking with routing updates

Imagine you’re driving to meet a friend. As you approach a busy intersection, the traffic slows suddenly and you have to slam on your brakes. According to research from experts at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, these hard-braking moments — incidents along a route that cause a driver to sharply decelerate — can be a leading indicator of car crash likelihood. Soon, Google Maps will reduce your chances of having hard-braking moments along your drive thanks to help from machine learning and navigation information.


Here’s how it works: Every time you get directions in Maps, we calculate multiple route options to your destination based on several factors, like how many lanes a road has and how direct a route is. With this update, we’ll take the fastest routes and identify which one is likely to reduce your chances of encountering a hard-braking moment. We’ll automatically recommend that route if the ETA is the same or the difference is minimal. We believe that these changes have the potential to eliminate 100 million hard-braking events in routes driven with Google Maps each year, so you can rely on Maps to get you from A to B quickly — but also more safely.

Walk this way with enhancements to Live View and detailed street maps

If you’re getting around on foot, we’ve got you covered with augmented reality in Live View. If you’re exploring a new neighborhood, you’ll be able to access Live View instantly — right from the map — and see helpful details about the shops and restaurants around you, like how busy they are, recent reviews and photos. We’ll also display helpful new street signs for complex intersections so you know exactly what road you’re on and which way to go. And if you’re traveling, Live View will tell you where you are in relation to places like your hotel — so you can always find your way back to home base.


Our detailed street maps feature, which launched last August, will soon be available in 50 more cities by the end of this year — including Berlin, São Paulo, Seattle, and Singapore. With the help of AI and our understanding of cityscapes around the globe, you can see where sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian islands are, along with the shape and width of a road to scale. This information can help pedestrians plan the most accommodating route, especially if they’re using a  wheelchair or stroller.

A GIF that shows what Google Maps looks like before and after detailed street maps

Detailed street maps are expanding to 50 more cities globally. 

Spot busy areas at a glance

Each day, more than 80 million people turn to live busyness information on Google for specific places to save time waiting in line and stay socially distanced during the pandemic. Now, this is expanding to show the relative busyness of an entire area, like whether a neighborhood or part of town is busier than usual. If it’s Saturday morning and you want to explore your city without crowds bogging you down, open up Maps to instantly see busy hotspots to avoid — like the streets near the local farmers’ market. On the flip side, if you want to check out popular parts of town, use area busyness to scope out lively neighborhoods at a glance to discover interesting things to do.
A GIF of Google Maps that shows that the area near the Spanish Steps in Rome is busier than usual

Use area busyness to quickly identify where crowded areas are in a city. 

A map tailored to you

Having information about the world is useful, but it can quickly become overwhelming if it’s not delivered at just the right time. To help you make sense of it all, we’re tailoring our map to highlight the most relevant places based on time of day and whether or not you’re traveling. If you live in New York and open up Maps at 8 a.m. on a weekday, we’ll prominently feature nearby coffee shops — instead of dinner spots — so you can start your day with a caffeine fix. And if you’re on a weekend getaway, it’ll be easier to spot local landmarks and tourist attractions right on the map. Want more options? Tap on any place to see similar places nearby.

A GIF that shows coffee spots in NYC in the morning, and dinner spots in the evening

See relevant places based on time of day and whether or not you’re traveling. 

No matter where you’re headed or what your plans are, Google Maps has the information you need along the way and the AI smarts to get you there. All of these features start rolling out globally on Android and iOS in the coming months, with detailed street maps coming to 50 new cities by the end of the year.

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