Google on Wednesday announced a trio of new Google Maps features that should improve your navigation experience during the summer months, including an essential update to location sharing: Support for notifications.
Google also updated cycling navigation in Google Maps, offering more information and choices for upcoming rides. Finally, Google has started rolling out the immersive view feature that was announced at I/O in May. It’s a nifty feature that might come in handy while you’re on vacation this summer.
New navigation features in Google Maps
Before we get to the new location-sharing notifications, we’ll look at two other useful Google Maps features that Google detailed in a new blog post.
The immersive view functionality comes right in time for the busy summer season. Google demoed the feature back at I/O 2022. It’s a photorealistic aerial view of well-known landmarks that uses “AI with billions of high definition Street View, satellite and aerial imagery.”
Initially, only 100 of the world’s most famous landmarks will be covered. The list includes popular destinations in Barcelona, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. The immersive view mode is available in the photos section for popular tourist attractions.
Cycling enthusiasts will be happy to hear that Google Maps is upgrading the navigation experience for biking. Google will let you compare routes in advance and see more granular details than before. You’ll get elevation data, including information about stairs and steep hills.
Google Maps will also tell you whether you’re likely to experience heavy car traffic on your desired route. That way, you’ll know what to expect and you can pick a more favorable route from the Google Maps options.
The new location sharing features in Google Maps
Finally, there’s the new location sharing feature. Sharing real-time location information with family and friends is one of the basic safety features any smartphone user has to learn. Whether they’re on Android or iPhone, location sharing features are available across various apps, including Google Maps.
Google’s main navigation app will now support new location sharing notifications. Google Maps users can set notifications for location sharing so that they can coordinate better:
Say you’re headed to a concert with a group of friends. If they’ve already chosen to share their location with you, you can set a notification for the concert venue’s address so you can see when they’ve arrived and meet up quickly. You could also set a notification to see when they’ve left the venue — just in case you get split up.
The new Google Maps feature comes in handy when tracking loved ones. You can set notifications to ensure a family member gets home on time. Or that they’ve safely returned from a more risky trip.
Google’s director of Google Maps product offers this example:
One of the ways I plan to use this feature this summer is when I set out on my solo hiking trip. By asking my sister to set a notification for me so she can see when I’ve returned to the trailhead parking lot gives me peace of mind that someone will know that I made it back safely.
You will have to let Google Maps access your location at all times for this feature to work. But Google says it built this feature with privacy “at the forefront.”
Google Maps users can set notifications only for someone who has already chosen to share their location. The person sharing his or her location will receive multiple reminders that they’re sharing that data. They’ll also get reminders and monthly emails as long as location sharing remains enabled.
Of note, a new support page explains that location sharing works even if you turn off Location History in Google Maps.