12 February 2020
UPDATE (February 13th, 2020):
The major Google Maps update that was announced last week has now made its way to a large number of devices around the globe. It is now available on both Android and iOS devices with design overhaul being the first change to appear. The new design adds the main menus to the bottom bar for quick access. These menus and other changes included in the update have been explained in the original reporting below.
Original (February 6th, 2020)
Google Maps is celebrating its 15th birthday today and to mark the occasion, Google has refreshed the app with a complete design overhaul and a new app icon. The team has also added a bunch of new features that are aimed to make it even more useful. The new update is available for both Android and iOS devices around the world.
The newly designed Google Maps now features five tabs at the bottom: Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute, and Updates. Here is what each of these tabs is meant for:
- Explore: Find information about places like restaurants, hotels, landmarks, and more nearby you. Check information, photos, reviews, and ratings to make an informed decision
- Commute: Find the best routes for commute and real-time traffic updates for own vehicle as well as public transit.
- Saved: Check all the places that you have saved at a single place.
- Contribute: Help other users by sharing valuable information about local places. It can be about existing places on the maps and also for missing places.
- Updates: Check out the feed of trending, must-see spots from local experts and publishers, like The Infatuation.
Along with the app UI redesign, Google has also updated the Maps icon to represent the evolution of the service. The new icon is simply a pin filled with Google's signature colors. Here is a short video showing the changes this icon has gone through in all these years.
As for the newly added features, Google Maps can now show vital information about the route based on the information shared by past riders. It can show the transit temperature to help you know whether it is cold or warm. A user can check whether a particular transit has accessibility support like staffed assistance, accessible entrance and seating, accessible stop-button or hi-visible LED. It can even show you the number of carriages in public transit but this particular feature is currently limited to Japan.
Some of the countries and regions have women-only coaches/sections in public transit. The app will alert users about such transits and will also alert them whether other passengers abide by these rules. Similarly, it will show whether a transit has security monitoring, be it in the form of a security guard or security cameras.
Google says that in future updates, it will be improving Live View functionality by adding assistance for showing the right direction. It means when you will be looking for a particular place using Live View, it will automatically point you towards the correct direction while also showing the distance from the current location.