Google surprised everyone last week when it announced an event for February 8th, suggesting that AI features were on the way for some of its most important products. The company teased Maps, Search, and Translate announcements, prompting speculation on whether its ChatGPT alternative would be in focus at the show. But Google ended up unveiling Bard on Monday, a day before Microsoft announced ChatGPT support in Bing.
Google’s Wednesday event did bring new announcements concerning Maps, Search, and Translate. The apps get a few smart new features, but don’t expect chatbots in any of them.
Google Maps expands immersive view
After introducing immersive view last year, Google is rolling out the Maps feature more widely.
Immersive view uses AI to fuse billions of Street View and aerial images to create a digital model of the world. Google then adds various layers to it, so users can quickly inspect what landmarks would look like in different weather and check the traffic.
The immersive view will also show how busy a place is, the access routes, and what nearby attractions are available.
With immersive view, Google Maps can go down to street level and even enter restaurants. This is another area where Google uses AI to create life-like tours that look like video recordings. However, Google relies on its neural radiance fields (NeRF) tech to merge 2D photos into 3D experiences.
Immersive view will be available in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence, and Venice will get the feature in the coming months.
Google Maps Live View expands to 1,000 indoor locations
A more exciting use of AI concerns the AR features in Google Maps. That’s a feature Maps users have been taking advantage of for quite some time. Just point the camera phone at your surroundings in Google Maps, and digital information will populate the screen.
That’s Live View, a feature that supports Search in specific markets: London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo. Barcelona, Dublin, and Madrid will get it in the coming months.
Google Maps Live View is even more exciting in indoor settings, as it can help users navigate them faster. The company prepared a massive Live View upgrade to indoor locations via the next release.
The company said 1,000 new airports, train stations, and malls in various markets would get the functionality. Barcelona, Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Melbourne, Paris, Prague, São Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, and Taipei are some of the markets where Google Maps users will get the Live View AI features.
Smarter EV charging and glanceable navigation
Leaked a few weeks ago, the new Google Maps features for electric vehicles will soon be available to users who own cars with Google built-in.
The app will automatically suggest a charging stop based on traffic, current charge level, and expected energy consumption. This works on shorter trips as well.
Google Maps will also highlight the very fast charging station to increase the charging speed. That means charging stations that support 150KW or higher.
Search in Google Maps will also display charging stations around destinations. That way, drivers can charge their EVs while stopping for errands in an area.
But Google Maps is a navigation app, first and foremost, and that’s another thing that Google is improving. Google Maps will use AI to offer glanceable directions while navigating. The app will let you track your journey from the route overview or lock screen, regardless of the transportation method. That means updated ETAs and turn support, even when the screen is locked.
Google Maps will also adapt in real-time to route deviations and update the trip accordingly. The glanceable directions will be available on Android and iPhone in the coming months. For the iPhone 14 Pro models, that also means support for Live Activities.
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