Offline search, Hindi maps, real-time traffic alerts, pit-stop pro with search along route and booking a cab, Google Maps has come a long way in India since its entry in 2007.
At present over 5,000 cities in India are on Google Maps. India is among the top three nations contributing with the most local guides, and is in the top five countries using offline maps.
Google’s effort to map India has evolved over years. The initial steps to map India started by finding addresses by using landmarks, this started in 2009. Before that Google had started the use of Map Maker in India, which allowed users to edit the maps they use. The success of Map Maker led to the formation of local guides.
In the last two months the Google Maps team in Hyderabad has had several features that makes using maps in India easier and commute convenient. It is also asking users to share local addresses by allowing then to directly sign-up from within Google Maps.
Sanket Gupta, product manager, Google Maps said: “When we started Google Maps 10 years back (globally) we had nothing, it was a blank sheet. Since then we have put the world’s map into every person’s pocket.”
Though India is not as well mapped as the US, several of the features that have been launched on Google Maps have come from Indian usage. For instance, the lastest offline maps made available in India.
“I have personally seen that whenever your network is on roaming usage, data speeds are slow. Moreover, connectivity in India in several areas is spotty. Our offline maps allows users to get turn-by-turn driving directions without internet connection,” said Gupta.
Gupta further added that even though Google Maps is a global product it will be localised for each geography. For instance, Google Maps will be also available in Hindi. “We have been working on this for sometime now. It’s a huge effort from our side, we completed this last year when we launched the voice-navigation in Hindi. The best part is that we have done the Hindi maps all through machine learning and it is one of the most elite languages. Earlier we would have done manually,” said Gupta.
With more and more people spending time on their handsets, Google Maps has also incorporated pit-stops while still being on track. This could be either for situation wherein you are running low on fuel and want to figure if you need to turn back or drive along to the closest petrol station.
The other feature that gets embedded with Google Maps is the taxi-booking feature. Available in 27 cities, Google has partnered with cab partners Ola and Uber, and a user can book a cab seamlessly by tappijng a solitary button. Of course, Ola and Uber apps need to be downloaded on the handset.
Google Maps also has added a real-time traffic update feature. Available in 34 cities, this feature allows users to see current traffic conditions right in the Maps and also compares how long certain route will take. This feature is available on all national highways and 34 cities.
Among the new features, Google Maps allows users to explore, review, and share experiences of places on the Maps. More importantly, Google now allows sharing of the venue with friends and family via Whatsapp, e-mail, Hangouts or any other sharing platform.
Credits Business Standard