Google Maps is good for more than just directions and navigation. Google’s popular app is quite versatile, providing plenty of information about your surroundings. Google Maps can help you identify points of interest near your destination, making it especially useful during trips to places you’ve never been before. And now, Google Maps is about to get a few powerful new search features that will let you make the most of your surroundings, even in places you think you already know, like your hometown.
Google on Thursday announced three new Google Maps search features. The most exciting one concerns using Live View to discover information about your surroundings with the help of your smartphone’s camera. However, it’s also a bit limited for the time being.
The app also got better search features for electric vehicle charging. And finally, the app will start showing wheelchair access to various places worldwide, a great accessibility feature in a navigation app.
Search Google Maps with Live View
Google launched the new Live View search functionality for Maps in September. The feature uses the smartphone camera to give you an augmented reality (AR) experience in Google Maps with the help of artificial intelligence.
The Live View search feature will roll out to more Google Maps users next week. It’ll be available on Android and iPhone, as expected. But it’s restricted to specific cities around the world. Users in London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo can use Live View search in Google Maps.
To use it, you have to lift the phone and tap the camera icon in the search bar. Then, Google Maps will show you all the nearby stores it knows of. Live View will tell you what direction to take to a store and how far it is from your location.
Moreover, the search feature will reveal other places around you that might not necessarily be visible, “like a clothing store around the block.”
Finally, Live View search will tell you if a store is open, how busy it is, and the price range. It’ll also show Google Maps reviews and ratings.
While searching for places around you, accessibility might be an essential factor. That’s another Google Maps feature that Google is improving. Google launched accessible places in 2020, but the feature was restricted to four countries. It’s now available globally on Android and iPhone.
Wheelchair access and EV charging filters
Google Maps users only have to turn on the Accessible Places setting in the Google Maps app and look for the wheelchair icon next to a business profile. If a place doesn’t support wheelchair access, you’ll see the same icon but with a strikethrough.
This accessibility feature will help people with certain disabilities plan trips accordingly. All you have to do is fire up Google Maps and search for the places you want to visit to see whether they support wheelchair access.
Google will also let Google Maps users edit businesses to add accessibility features.
Lastly, Google improved Google Maps support for electric vehicle charging. The app will let you search for the best charging station for your car. Type “EV charging stations” and select the fast charge filter. The app will highlight chargers that support 50kW or higher.
Also, users can filter EV chargers that support a particular plug type. The features are available on Android and iPhone in countries where EV stations are deployed.