Last week, Google announced new location sharing features in Google Maps that would allow you to easily share your current position momentarily or indefinitely with select people. The option is the same that we've had in Google+ for a few years, except it would now be in the app that made most sense, Maps. It also follows Google's trend of decoupling options and features from Google+.
In the official announcement, Google said the feature would be rolling out "soon" worldwide, but didn't give an exact timeline, and we have yet to see it on our devices regardless of the version of Maps we're running. Read More
It's always good to see useful new features in the apps we use often, and Google Maps rarely fails to bring something new with every update. The latest bump to v9.49 is no different. This release adds a few new toys for users to enjoy. There's a new capability to manually save your parking location so it's easier to get back to your car, weather predictions for your destinations while setting up navigation, and more. There's even a quick teardown that shows search results will soon support sorting. Read More
Local Guides is a program by Google Maps in which you "help others explore the world and get great benefits in return" (Google's words, not mine). Well, it looks like those great benefits are about to become merely average benefits, as Google is completely ditching free Drive storage for new Level 4 Local Guides, who currently get 100GB for one year. Read More
Google opted to set loose a small deluge of updates late into Wednesday afternoon. The first we're checking out is the Maps app, which was just promoted to version 9.47. This update doesn't appear to bring any major new features, but it takes a couple of steps to weave the Timeline feature into other parts of the interface and completely redesigns the blue dot menu. We're still looking for changes, so let us know in the comments if you stumble onto anything else. Read More
A new beta update of Google Maps began rolling out late Tuesday night. The changes aren't particularly major, but they might tie up a few loose ends. If you're a Local Guide with a few points to your name, this version will bring the ability to share links to individual reviews. There are also some tweaks to the notification settings, including a new notification for people with business listings to maintain. Finally, there's an improvement to the parking difficulty rating system, but it may not be live yet. Read More
A few weeks ago, a new Parking Difficulty icon started showing up in Google Maps 9.44 beta in some cities in the United States, then Google officially announced it and specified where it's available. It also said that the estimate is "based on historical parking data," similar to how traffic and popular times and visit durations are calculated, but it didn't go into a lot of details. Now those details are further clarified in a post on the Google Research Blog.
The difficulties of calculating parking availability stem from the many, many factors that can influence the equation: time and day and weather and holidays/events, permit or illegal parking in park-meter areas, vacant spots with paid park-meters from cars that left early, parking lots with multiple levels and different structures, and so on. Even with these issues accounted for, there's the false data coming from private/gated parking spots, taxis dropping users who look like they immediately found a parking and reached their destination, and bus stops showing up in the data sets as popular parking spots. Read More
Google Maps was recently promoted to v9.45 in the beta channel. This update includes a partially redesigned arrival card when users reach their destinations and introduces a feature where Google will send emails with highlights from your timeline. Turning to the teardown, it's clear that Google will soon allow users to share their custom lists with others. As usual, there's a download link at the bottom of the post, but since the v9.45.1 update came out shortly after the .0 release, both versions are linked. Read More
Over the last few months, the team working on Google Maps has been making it easier for users to browse photos of different landmarks and businesses. Each location includes a space set aside for pictures, but a few types of businesses also sport dedicated albums. Some of the examples include pictures of the food and atmosphere inside restaurants. A new album just joined the list: photos representing the amenities available at hotels and other similar lodgings. Read More