Google Maps adds area occupancy ratings, airport and shopping center directories
Google Maps is getting another big update, this one aimed at making vacation shopping and travel a little less stressful. This year’s holiday season will be more “normal” than the last, given that pandemic restrictions have eased since last winter, and by normal we mean there will be a lot more shopping for. put our house in order.
The most notable Maps update comes in the form of occupancy rates for entire neighborhoods. This tool, called Area Busyness, builds on the activity crowdsourcing functions that Google has already incorporated into its transit directions and location listings. You will now be able to target areas, not just retail establishments and offices.
This type of software update is really where Google excels – not with major upgrades (although these are appreciated every now and then), but with incremental quality of life features.
Avoid the crowds – Google’s existing occupancy ratings are expanding to cover a lot more ground. Where previously you could only explore the activity of a specific location – the restaurant where you plan to meet friends, for example – you can now perform the same temperature control to avoid entire neighborhoods.
This feature essentially aggregates occupancy data already collected by Google via anonymous data from users’ location history. Google says it will roll out to both Android and iOS “in time for this holiday season.”
Also find your way inside – Google Maps has always been about navigating from point A to point B, but this advice has also always been quite limited to outdoor settings. Now Google is updating Maps databases to include directory information for shopping malls, airports and transit stations around the world.
In a location’s Directory tab, you’ll be able to scroll through all of the businesses that live in an airport or shopping mall, along with information about which floor it’s on and whether it’s currently open or not. This will also be available worldwide on Android and iOS soon.
And the collection of groceries – Google is also expanding its grocery pickup service, which it has been piloting in Portland, Ore., Since March. Much like Instacart, this service allows Maps users to order groceries from the app for scheduled pickup.
To date, grocery pickup is available via Google Maps at more than 2,000 stores in 30 states. Most are Kroger stores.
Apple is lagging behind – Google’s most serious competitor in the mapping game, Apple, has also made significant improvements to its app in recent years. But a number of factors keep Apple Maps behind Google, including the fact that it’s only available on Apple devices. Google Maps can be downloaded on any Android or iOS device.
Apple just isn’t investing as much of its resources in the Maps app. Updates are sparse at best. Maybe because the company is so busy trying to make this Apple Car happen instead.