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google maps

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Google Maps gets one step closer to omniscience, adds live place busyness, average stay times, more detailed business hours

Google has announced this morning that the live place data feature one of our APK teardowns hinted at last month is now official. The feature will allow you to see an estimate of how busy a business or point of interest is right now, which, let's just stop and think about how completely insane the future is for a minute. Your phone can tell you how many people, relatively, are at a place. Just, wow.

Anyway, the rather awesome technology on display here aside, Google has announced two other features regarding places. The first will let you know how long people typically stay at a particular place, theoretically allowing you to gauge how much time to make for your visit to that hot new Asian fusion taco place that everyone's raving about (just me?

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Google Maps v9.41.0 beta adds 'on these lists' section, a toggle to start in satellite mode, new visuals for adding a stop, and prepares to show off hotel deals [APK Download + Teardown]

Depending on where you're at in the world, you may have some holidays coming up that demand long drives and a lot of time watching a screen as Google Maps directs the way back to family. There's a new update out that might make your trip planning and navigation just a little better. Version 9.41 has a new option to always start up in satellite mode, adds links to articles about top-listed businesses, and polishes the look for adding stops along a route. There are also hints that it will show when a hotel is running a good deal.

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Google and Warner Bros. let muggles hunt for Fantastic Beasts in Search, Maps, Daydream, and Allo

There's a new Harry Potter spinoff hitting movie theaters soon, in case you haven't turned on a television, surfed the web, or looked at a billboard in the last few months. And because Warner Bros. isn't interested in making a new movie without the potential for yet another billion-dollar set of sequels, they're pulling out all of the stops for the marketing for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That includes some new Easter eggs (do wizards celebrate Easter? Maybe chocolate frogs or something) in Google Search, Maps, and the upcoming Daydream VR platform.

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Panoramio shutdown scheduled for November 4, 2016; Google details image export options for its users

Before Street View and PhotoSpheres and Local Guides programs with millions of user-submitted photos, there was Panoramio. The site launched in 2005 as a way for users to share geotagged photos around the world and was later acquired by Google in 2007. Its Google Earth and Maps layers boast nearly 100 million user-contributed images, with many locations around the globe offering more pictures than what's available from Maps user submissions.

However, back in 2014, Google had decided to shut down Panoramio and fold it into Maps. That decision was met with some push back from the community, and thus resulted in the delay of the final doom and Google working to implement more social features and contributions in Google Maps to make the Panoramio shutdown more tolerable.

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Google is rolling out a ton of new navigation voice commands

Driving is serious business—you're in control of a rolling pile of metal and glass weighing thousands of pounds, and one moment of inattention can have very messy consequences. So, for goodness' sake, don't screw around with your phone while driving. Google Maps has voice commands while in navigation or driving mode to help you keep your hands off the phone, and today there are a lot more available.

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Google Maps v9.38 adds a dedicated album for food photos and an upcoming events tab for your places [APK Download]

Google set loose a new beta release of Maps, taking it up to v9.38. This release doesn't seem to have quite as many huge features as some of the last few, but there are still a couple of cool additions. There's a new tab with a list of upcoming events, bookings, and reservations. The dedicated album for food photos from a recent teardown is now also live. There are almost always a few other hidden gems in each release, so keep an eye out for more changes and let us know if you see anything else.

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The newer, more accurate direction indicator in Google Maps is going live for all users

Last month a few Google Maps users started seeing a new display style for the direction indicator, that little arrow that shows which way your device is pointed (or at least which way it thinks it's pointed) on the primary maps and navigation interface. Specifically, it's no longer an arrow: it's a more general "beam" indicator that shows both the approximate direction you're facing and how accurate your device's orientation reporting is. According to the official Google Maps blog, that feature is now rolling out to all users.

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[Update: Android app too] Google Maps' speed limits start showing up while driving... on Android Auto

There are some missing features in Android and some of Google's apps that are simply incomprehensible. Speed limits are one of them. In countries where speed limits are enforceable by the law and mandatory to respect (ie not here in Lebanon), it's quite unfathomable to me that you would be using a routing and navigation app that didn't show you the speed limit of each road you were taking so you could drive safely and lawfully.

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Latest Google Maps beta shows distance to locations in search

A few days ago, we posted a teardown of the latest Google Maps beta. Another minor, but much appreciated, change in this beta version is that distances now appear alongside results in search.

This is a very minor feature, but definitely one worth mentioning. Most of the time when I searched for locations, I had to look at the map myself and figure out which was the closest. As you would expect, it shows the distance in either Imperial 'Murican or Metric units, depending on your preference.

googlemaps-screenshot

If you want to try out the beta release, you can download the APK from APKMirror.

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Some Google Maps beta users are seeing a new Explore interface

Android users (or at least the ones who read this site) love a good beta, because it means that they get to check out all the new bells and whistles before anyone else. So it goes with the beta version of Google Maps. Multiple readers tell us they're seeing a new user interface when opening Google Maps' Explore menu, which is an alternate view for finding local businesses and attractions. The new look, which is heavy on Google Now-style cards, is above. Compare it to the current version (on the standard non-beta app) below.

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