There's a new version of Google Maps making the rounds through the beta channel. So far, no major changes are showing up with regular usage of the app, but there is evidence of a couple really huge new features on the horizon. A teardown of the apk reveals that the Maps team is preparing to launch a Q&A section for places that would allow users to ask and answer questions for each other. Also on the schedule is the addition of video to the types of media users will be able to contribute. These are some pretty huge features, so let's get straight to it.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Video Contributions

When deciding on a place to go, people often want to know what a place looks like in addition to seeing ratings and reviews. You can now contribute photos to help others get a sense of places.

That's a quote from a Google blog post to announce users of Google Maps could begin uploading photos of places around the world. Not only do those words ring true, but user contributed pictures have become part of the DNA of the Maps experience and helped to evolve the very successful Local Guides program.

However, still images can't always tell the whole story about a place – how windy it gets, how much walking you have to do, or just how big it really feels. The time has come to evolve again, so Google Maps is preparing to add videos to the equation.

New text in the APK mentions video plenty of times, including a few instances of "user video" and actions to delete videos or report them for poor quality. Based on what's here, it's also possible to surmise that there will be Pause and Mute buttons during playback.

code

<string name="PAUSE_BUTTON_CONTENT_DESCRIPTION">Pause</string>
<string name="UNMUTE_BUTTON_CONTENT_DESCRIPTION">Un-mute</string>
<string name="UNMUTE_VIDEO">Video will have sound</string>
<string name="MUTE_VIDEO">Video won\'t have sound</string>

<string name="VIDEO_TOO_LONG">Longer videos will be shortened to 30 seconds</string>

<string name="DELETE_USER_VIDEO_CONFIRMATION">Delete this video from Google Maps?</string>
<string name="DELETE_USER_VIDEO_FAILED">We encountered an error during the video deletion.</string>
<string name="IMAGERY_RAP_POOR_QUALITY">Poor quality photo or video</string>

<string name="UGC_MEDIA_ACCESSIBILITY_DESELECT_PHOTO_THUMB_N_OF_M">Deselect photo %1$d of %2$d</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_ACCESSIBILITY_DESELECT_VIDEO_THUMB_N_OF_M">Deselect video %1$d of %2$d</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_ACCESSIBILITY_PHOTO_SELECTED_FOR_UPLOAD">Photo selected for upload. Item %1$d. Swipe down to delete.</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_ACCESSIBILITY_SELECT_PHOTO_THUMB_N_OF_M">Select photo %1$d of %2$d for publishing.</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_ACCESSIBILITY_SELECT_VIDEO_THUMB_N_OF_M">Select video %1$d of %2$d for publishing.</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_ACCESSIBILITY_VIDEO_SELECTED_FOR_UPLOAD">Video selected for upload. Item %1$d. Swipe down to delete.</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_TAKEN_NOTIFICATION_TAP_TO_ADD_PHOTOS">Add your photos of %1$s</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_TAKEN_NOTIFICATION_TAP_TO_ADD_PHOTOS_AND_VIDEOS">Add your photos and videos of %1$s</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_TAKEN_NOTIFICATION_TAP_TO_ADD_VIDEO">Add this video at %s</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_TAKEN_NOTIFICATION_TAP_TO_ADD_VIDEOS">Add your videos of %1$s</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_TAKEN_NOTIFICATION_TAP_TO_ADD_WITH_NO_MEDIA">Add your photos and videos of %s</string>
<string name="UGC_MEDIA_TAKEN_NOTIFICATION_TITLE_WITH_NO_MEDIA">Google Maps</string>

<plurals name="PHOTO_AND_VIDEO_UPLOAD_IN_PROGRESS_TITLE">
<item quantity="other">Adding %1$d photos/videos to Maps</item>
<item quantity="zero">Adding %1$d photos/videos to Maps</item>
<item quantity="one">Adding %1$d photo/video to Maps</item>
<item quantity="two">Adding %1$d photos/videos to Maps</item>
<item quantity="few">Adding %1$d photos/videos to Maps</item>
<item quantity="many">Adding %1$d photos/videos to Maps</item>
</plurals>
<plurals name="PHOTO_AND_VIDEO_UPLOAD_PENDING_TASK_TITLE">
<item quantity="other">Waiting for wifi.\n %d pending photos/videos.</item>
<item quantity="zero">Waiting for wifi.\n %d pending photos/videos.</item>
<item quantity="one">Waiting for wifi.\n %d pending photo/video.</item>
<item quantity="two">Waiting for wifi.\n %d pending photos/videos.</item>
<item quantity="few">Waiting for wifi.\n %d pending photos/videos.</item>
<item quantity="many">Waiting for wifi.\n %d pending photos/videos.</item>
</plurals>

New intent filter on com.google.android.apps.gmm.ugc.clientnotification.phototaken.StartPhotoTakenNotifierServiceReceiver
<intent-filter>
<action android:name="android.hardware.action.NEW_VIDEO" />
<action android:name="com.android.camera.NEW_VIDEO" />
<data android:mimeType="video/*" />
</intent-filter>

The only other major detail to get from the text is about video length. According to one line, "longer videos will be shortened to 30 seconds." This is somewhat vague on both what it means to be longer and how videos are shortened. In terms of length, it's not really clear if there's an upper threshold of, say 45 seconds, that triggers a shortening operation, or if a 31-second video requires resizing. Then there's the question of how. Specifics aren't available about whether a video is simply cropped down to 30 seconds or if there's an attempt to speed it up, though I would expect it to be the former.

Videos can certainly add a new dimension to looking at places before going, You might be wondering when this feature is going to launch. I may be too presumptuous, but I think it will be on July 27th, 2017... I know, that's pretty specific, but it's based on a simple detail: July 27th happens to be the 6-year anniversary of the blog post I quoted from at the beginning of this section. Sure, the date could be totally coincidental, but that kind of continuity would be awesome and I doubt the Maps team missed it.

Crowdsourced Q&A

Reading reviews of businesses and attractions can give you a pretty good idea of what you're getting into before going someplace, or they might even steer you away if the general consensus isn't so happy with the experience. However, by their nature, reviews only travel one direction, and if reviewers don't think to mention certain details that are important to you, it could be a crapshoot. Google Maps is about to introduce a new Q&A section for places so potential visitors can ask questions and have them answered by people who have been there.

Anybody can ask questions about a place and other users can post their responses. It's a lot like the Q&A section on Amazon's product pages, but you can't reply to the answers people have given. Editing and deleting questions and answers is allowed, as is reporting questions or answers that may be spammy, offensive, or otherwise low quality.

code

<string name="PLACE_QA_INPUT_QUESTION_HINT_TEXT">Ask the community</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_INPUT_ANSWER_HINT_TEXT">Add an answer publicly</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_INPUT_FIRST_QUESTION_HINT_TEXT">Be the first to ask a question</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_ALL_QUESTIONS_FILTER">All questions</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ALL_QUESTIONS_PAGE_TITLE">Questions about %1$s</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_ASK_A_QUESTION_PAGE_TITLE">Ask a question</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ASK_A_QUESTION_PAGE_HINT_TEXT">Ask a question or get advice from the owner &amp; broader community.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_QUESTION_THANK_YOU_TITLE">Thanks for posting your question!</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_QUESTION_THANK_YOU_SUBTITLE">You\'ll get a notification when the owner or someone else answers.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_QUESTION_THANK_YOU_ASK_ANOTHER">Ask another</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_QUESTION_LABEL">Q: </string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_QUESTION_PAGE_TITLE">Question about %1$s</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_QUESTION_POST_TYPE">Question</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_OVERFLOW_MENU_DESCRIPTION">Options for the %1$s by %2$s</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_ANSWER_PROMPT">Answer</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ANSWER_THANK_YOU_TITLE">Thanks for answering!</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ANSWER_THANK_YOU_SUBTITLE">Your insights help people find the best places to go.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ANSWER_LABEL">A: </string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_ANSWER_POST_TYPE">Answer</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_ANSWER_BUTTON_DESCRIPTION">Answer the question by %1$s</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_POST_BUTTON_DESCRIPTION">Post your answer</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_NO_ANSWERS_YET">No answers yet</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_CLOSE_BUTTON">Close</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_DELETE_ANSWER">Delete answer</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_DELETE_QUESTION">Delete question</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_EDIT_ANSWER">Edit answer</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_EDIT_ANSWER_HINT_TEXT">Edit your answer</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_EDIT_QUESTION">Edit question</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_POST_EDITED_LABEL">Edited</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_ERROR_MESSAGE_GENERIC">An error occurred, please try again.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ERROR_MESSAGE_QUESTION_REMOVED">This question was removed.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_FALLBACK_USER_NAME">A Google user</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_SEE_ALL_ANSWERS">See all answers (%1$d)</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_SEE_ALL_QUESTIONS">See all questions (%1$d)</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_SEE_QUESTIONS">See questions (%1$d)</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_SUMMARY_CARD_TITLE">Questions &amp; answers</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_YOUR_QUESTIONS_FILTER">Your questions</string>
<plurals name="PLACE_QA_MORE_ANSWERS">
<item quantity="other">%d more answers</item>
<item quantity="zero">%d more answers</item>
<item quantity="one">%d more answer</item>
<item quantity="two">%d more answers</item>
<item quantity="few">%d more answers</item>
<item quantity="many">%d more answers</item>
</plurals>

<string name="PLACE_QA_REPORT_ANSWER">Report answer</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_REPORT_QUESTION">Report question</string>

<activity-alias android:name="com.google.android.apps.maps.PlaceQaActivity" android:exported="false" android:targetActivity="com.google.android.maps.MapsActivity" />

If somebody responds to one of your questions, you'll receive a notification. Naturally, you can opt out of these notifications if you don't like them.

code

<string name="PLACE_QA_NOTIFICATION_SETTINGS_TITLE">Community questions and answers</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_NOTIFICATION_SETTINGS_SUMMARY">Know when your questions get answered and help answer other people\'s questions about places you know</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_NOTIFICATION_OPT_OUT_TITLE">Community questions and answers</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_NOTIFICATION_OPT_OUT_MESSAGE">You\'re getting updates when your questions are answered and when someone asks about a place you know</string>

Just like reviews, users can give a thumbs-up to good answers and the tally will show up next to them for others to see. This should give higher placement among other responses.

<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_THUMBS_UP_CHECKED_DESCRIPTION">%1$s by %2$s marked as helpful. Tap to remove.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_THUMBS_UP_UNCHECKED_DESCRIPTION">%1$s by %2$s. %3$s Tap to mark helpful.</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_NUMBER_OF_UPVOTES">%1$d</string>

Business owners will also have some involvement in this area. They will receive notifications when somebody asks a question about their business, and their responses will be marked with an (Owner) badge. The owner can opt out of notifications if desired.

<string name="PLACE_QA_OWNER_LABEL">%1$s (Owner)</string>

<string name="PLACE_QA_MERCHANT_NOTIFICATION_OPT_OUT_TITLE">Community questions and answers</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_MERCHANT_NOTIFICATION_OPT_OUT_MESSAGE">You\'re getting updates when customers ask and answer questions about your business</string>

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Version: 9.58 beta

Maps - Navigation & Transit
Maps - Navigation & Transit
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free