Google wants to make the Maps app for Android and iOS more relevant to users in India. The company has announced a series of new features which will help users navigate better, using Maps. It includes support for six more Indian languages (Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu) in voice navigation, real-time traffic updates based on large-scale real-time events and the option to find addresses more easily.
For traffic updates, Google has tied up with traffic authorities in major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. So if there is a festival or event which might affect traffic in the city, Maps will incorporate real-time traffic information on the routes that will be affected.
To help users find addresses better, Google now offers a detailed form on Maps app, where users can provide address details for any house, shop or office. This address will be searchable and visible to all users on Maps. For users’ safety, the address form will not use names or any other personal details which can be used to identify a person with an address.
To improve search for places which do not have a corresponding address on Maps, Google has added a new feature called Plus Codes. It works by dividing a geographical area into a small square-shaped grid and then assigning it a unique virtual address identifiable with a 10-digit code comprising numbers and letters. Anyone can generate a Plus code for a place which doesn’t have an address and then share the code with friends on social media or messenger apps. Businesses can generate a Plus code and add it in the overview section of their place in Google Search or Maps. Anyone searching for that place can use the code to navigate.
Users cannot manually create a Plus Code for a location. The code will be generated by Google for a location chosen by the user. Plus code works offline which makes it all the more viable for users in countries such as India where internet is still erratic.
Then there is the Smart Address feature for complex addresses. According to Google, in India addresses in urban centres are too long compared to addresses in US. This makes navigation even on Google Maps difficult. Smart Address uses machine learning to identify key points of interests in a long address to suggest an alternative landmark-based route for navigation.
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