Google Tuesday introduced a range of new features and updates for its mapping service in India as it wraps up for the year and sets the base for the coming year.
One of the latest in the series of new additions is Lens in Maps, which will be launching in 15 cities across India by January, starting with Android. The feature, which was launched in the U.S. and some global markets in October, uses a mix of artificial intelligence and augmented reality to provide information such as opening hours, ratings, reviews, and photos when people point the camera of their smartphone down the street to a restaurant or cafe.
Google has also launched its Live View walking navigation in India to offer arrows, directions, and distance markers overlayed on the Maps screen, helping users navigate easily to their destination. Google said the feature would be available initially on Android and would be rolled out to over 3,000 cities and towns in the country.
“India is a massive, massive country with so many diverse needs,” said Miriam Karthika, VP for Google Maps Experience, at the event. “The scale at which we have to operate for India is very vast.”
In addition to visual and immersive viewing experiences through Lens in Maps and Live View walking navigation, Google announced Address Descriptors that use a combination of machine learning signals to offer up to five most relevant landmarks and area names around pinned addresses and display landmark reference when a user shares their location. This India-first capability, introduced for developers on Google Maps Platform earlier this year, will be available across over 75 Indian cities.
Google has also brought its fuel-efficient routing to India, which will be available to users starting in January. The feature will work across four-wheelers and two-wheelers in the country to help users reduce fuel consumption and limit carbon emissions. Alongside India, the feature will be available to users in Indonesia next year.
Since its initial launch in October 2021 and until September this year, Google said fuel-efficient routing helped prevent more than 2.4 million metric tons of CO2e emissions globally. The company said that the feature uses AI to understand real-time traffic data, road elevation, and vehicle’s engine type to identify the route that limits fuel and emissions.
Apart from launching the global features in India, Google partnered with India’s Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) and mobility app Namma Yatri to provide metro schedules and bookings to users directly through Google Maps. The experience will be available starting with Kochi metro by mid-next year and will follow other metros as they come on the open e-commerce network.
Google has also expanded its Where Is My Train app, which garners over 80 million users every month to navigate their intercity train journeys, to cover Mumbai and Kolkata local trains, with more cities to be added over time.
So far, Google mapped millions of kilometers of roads as well as 300 million buildings across the country. Over 50 million daily searches on Maps, 2.5 billion kilometers of directions every day and more than 60 million unique users contributing to Maps in the country. Additionally, Google said it put 30 million businesses and places on the Maps in the country, enabling 900 million direct merchant-to-consumer connections.
In July last year, Google introduced Street View in India six years after the feature was banned in the country over security concerns. The company partnered with local entities Genesys and Tech Mahindra. Today, over 50 million users are viewing Street View in the country, Google said.