Google Maps Celebrates 15th Birthday with Fresh Look, New Features

author image Written by: Nicole McCormick           Categories - In The News

Google Maps Rolls Out New Public Transit Insights and Navigation Tabs

Since Google Maps isn’t able to legally drive a car yet, Google’s gift to the revolutionary navigation tool for its 15th birthday is a spiffy new look. Just in time for its milestone birthday this week, Google Maps, which officially launched in February 2005 (feel old yet?) is getting a makeover with new navigation tabs, some cool new features, and even a brand-new icon. Here’s what Google had to say about it: “In 2005, we set out to map the world. Since then we’ve pushed the limits of what a map can do: from helping you easily navigate from point A to B, to helping you explore and get things done in the world. With more than 1 billion people turning to Google Maps to see and explore the world, we’re celebrating our 15th birthday with a new look and product updates based on feedback from you,” said Google in a recent blog post. But why change the famous icon? Google explained its decision, stating: “It’s based on a key part of Google Maps since the very beginning—the pin— and represents the shift we’ve made from getting you to your destination to also helping you discover new places and experiences.” The new Google-branded pin icon pictured below will replace the old map intersection icon. New Google Maps Icon Source: Google

Other Brand-New Features

As we touched on earlier, Google Maps has also launched some cool new features, including five easy to access navigation tabs:

  • Explore. The new Explore tab is where you’ll find information, ratings, reviews, and more for around 200 million local businesses across the globe such as bars and restaurants, and nearby attractions and landmarks.
  • Commute. For users traveling to work by car or public transit, the Commute tab will help you map out the most efficient route for your trip. It will enable you to get real-time traffic updates, travel times, and suggestions for alternative routes.
  • Saved. The saved tab allows you to view all places you have saved in one convenient spot. It will also allow you to organize plans for any upcoming trips and share your recommendations based on places you’ve been.
  • Contribute. With the new Contribute tab, users can easily share local knowledge, with each other, such as details about roads and addresses, missing places, business reviews, and photos.
  • Updates. This tab contains a feed of trending, must-see spots from local experts and publishers and allows users to directly chat with businesses.

Public Transit with Less Frustration

Google Maps is also expanding on the public transit crowdedness predictions launched last year with the following set of transit insights expected to roll out in March.

  • Temperature. Users will be able to check in advance how hot or cold it is on a particular bus/train based on feedback by past riders.
  • Accessibility. Users with special needs or who require additional support will be able to check and see if certain public transit lines have staffed assistance, accessible entrance and seating, accessible stop-button, or hi-visible LED.
  • Women’s Section. In parts of the world where transit systems have designated women’s sections, Google will relay this information to users.
  • Security Onboard. This insight will tell you whether there is security monitoring on board, and whether this means there is a security guard present, installed security cameras, or an available helpline.
  • Number of Carriages Available. This will let you choose a route based on the number of carriages in order to increase your chances of snagging a seat. This feature is only available in Japan.

Google maps public transit features Can you believe Google Maps is turning 15? They really do grow up so fast. With that being said, happy birthday Google Maps! Here’s to another 15 years of easy navigation and local SEO.

Nicole McCormick

Nicole is a wordsmith wizard, passionate about the written word and an avid storyteller who uses creatively crafted prose to help bring your brand’s story to the next level. A former journalist with writing credits in both local and national news publications and a few newspaper awards under her belt, Nicole now enjoys telling your stories and finding new and creative ways to create valuable content that resonates with audiences in the digital landscape.

Google Introduces New Curbside Pickup & Delivery Features for Local Businesses


Good news for local businesses that have adapted their business model during the pandemic – Google is launching new features that allow users to see a business’ curbside pickup and delivery options along with other important information within Google Maps and Google My Business.

Such information includes:

  • Delivery providers

  • Pickup and delivery windows

  • Delivery fees

  • Order minimums for delivery or pickup

Google is starting off small, and will be rolling this feature out only for Instacart and Albertsons Cos. stores in the U.S. However, there are plans to expand to Maps and other partners later on.

Google is also currently testing another feature that would improve the curbside pickup process for customers by providing real-time updates between the customer and the store.

Here’s what this would look like:

A customer places an order for curbside pickup on the store’s app and it gets added to Google Maps. Google will notify the customer when it’s time to leave to pickup their orders, and ask them to share their estimated time of arrival (ETA). Their ETA will be continuously updated depending on the customer’s current location and traffic flow. When they arrive, customers can check in on the Google Maps app, and even let the store know where they are parked, and someone will bring out their order for curbside delivery.

Google will begin testing this feature with grocery store chain Fred Meyer in the summer of 2021, but only in select stores located in Portland, Oregon. It is unknown if this feature will be rolled out to include other stores and locations.

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Users Can Now Upload Their Own Photos to Google Maps Without Leaving a Review


Google Maps is making it easier for businesses to leverage user-generated content by allowing users to create helpful content within the app. 

The first update allows users to share their experience with a particular business through photos in Google Maps. Previously, users could only do this when leaving a review. The goal is to make it easier for users to share and find local business recommendations and treat Maps as more of a casual, social platform.

“With all the change our world saw over the past year, people are relying more than ever on high-quality, updated information about the places around them — like if a nearby restaurant is open or if a local grocery store has updated hours,” said Kevin Reese, Google Maps’ Director of Product in a recent blog post.

“To make sure your map reflects the real world, we make it easy for anyone with a Google account to contribute their local knowledge about more than 200 million places in Google Maps. These community-led updates help people everywhere make better decisions about what to do and where to go.”

The photo update option is essentially just a photo uploaded to Google Maps with a short description.

Users can add a photo update by finding a certain location in Maps and clicking the Updates tab. There, they can click on “Add a photo update” and upload as many photos as they please.

Google Maps Community Challenge

Google is also launching a new community challenge pilot that will encourage users to contribute reviews, photos, and updates to the Google Maps platform. The goal is to update over 100,000 business profiles in just one month.

Users can participate by going to the Contribute tab and clicking “Join the Local Love challenge.”

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