Google Maps turns 15 years old, gets a new icon and refreshed UI

Google Maps header

One of Google’s most popular services to date, Google Maps, is turning 15 years old this Saturday, February 8th. To celebrate, the company has announced it’s giving Maps a fresh look with an upgraded UI, a new icon, and some new features.

Off the bat, the first thing you’ll notice is the new icon. Google says it reflects the signature pin icon found in the app when locating a specific place, and the colors obviously help it icon fall in line with the rest of Google’s products. I kind of like it, although it’s probably easier for it to get lost on your home screen.

Opening the app, you’ll be greeted by a new navigation bar with five tabs: Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute, and Updates. Here’s what they all do, according to Google.

  • Explore: Looking for a place nearby to grab lunch, enjoy live music or play arcade games? In the Explore tab, you’ll find information, ratings, reviews and more for about 200 million places around the world, including local restaurants, nearby attractions and city landmarks. 
  • Commute: Whether you’re traveling by car or public transit, the Commute tab is there to make sure you’re on the most efficient route. Set up your daily commute to get real-time traffic updates, travel times and suggestions for alternative routes. 
  • Saved: People have saved more than 6.5 billion places on Google Maps—from the new bakery across town to the famous restaurant on your upcoming vacation. Now you can view all of these spots in one convenient place, as well as find and organize plans for an upcoming trip and share recommendations based on places you’ve been. 
  • Contribute: Hundreds of millions of people each year contribute information that helps keep Google Maps up to date. With the new Contribute tab, you can easily share local knowledge, such as details about roads and addresses, missing places, business reviews and photos. Each contribution goes a long way in helping others learn about new places and decide what to do. 
  • Updates: The new Updates tab provides you with a feed of trending, must-see spots from local experts and publishers, like The Infatuation. In addition to discovering, saving and sharing recommendations with your network, you can also directly chat with businesses to get questions answered.

In and around these sections of the app, you’ll also find some tweaked and refined design characteristics to reflect a cleaner, much more minimal UI. Despite all the stuff Google packs into Maps, it should look like less now. Great.

Speaking of packing stuff into Map, Google is also adding more transit data to the app. Temperature judgements by past riders, accessibility info, women’s section locations, security presence, and carriage availability in Japan will all be rolling out with the newest version of the app.

Finally, Google is also improving its Live View AR directions. Soon, you’ll be able to quickly see how far away you are from your destination and see what direction you have to go in. This feature alone will likely draw in more users to the feature since right now, it’s a bit gimmicky thanks to its limited functionality.

Both Android and iOS users can expect these features to hit their phones soon. In fact, the updated icon should be rolling out to everyone by now, so go check your respective app stores for updates.

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