Every day, millions of people turn to Google Maps for Android for free, voice-guided GPS navigation to guide them to their destination. So far, Navigation on Google Maps for Android has provided 50 billion kilometers of turn-by-turn directions, the equivalent of 130,000 trips to the moon, 334 trips to the sun, 10 trips to Neptune or 0.005 light years! When getting to your destination matters most, Google Maps for Android will get you there:
A new look for Navigation on Android 4.0+ phones
In today’s release of Google Maps 6.5 for Android we’ve redesigned the Navigation home screen in Android 4.0+ to make it easier to enter a new destination or select from recent and favorite locations by swiping left or right.
Left: New Navigation home screen Right: Navigation in Google Maps for Android
Crisper, faster maps for high pixel density devices
If your device has a high pixel density screen, such as those on Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, Droid Razr and others, you’ll now get higher resolution map tiles that take better advantage of the pixels-per-inch on your screen. The result is a crisper, less cluttered map that is easier to read:
Left: Previous style Right:New style in Google Maps 6.5 for Android
Compare our new map on the right to the previous map on the left. The road network is easier to see, less obstructed by labels, and has more color contrast. At more zoomed-in levels, you’ll notice a more controlled amount of maps labels to avoid cluttering the map and blocking out street names. The new style also helps maps react faster to panning, zooming and twisting.
You’ll start seeing the new style as you navigate around new areas on the map; however, you can see these changes immediately by clearing your cache from the Maps settings.
Pick your preferred public transit mode and route option Google Maps 6.5 for Android now lets you choose to prioritize a particular transit mode (such as the bus or subway) and route option (like taking the recommended route, one with fewer transfers or one with less walking). Whether you just need to get somewhere as fast as possible, or you want to avoid the risk of a missed connection or you prefer not to tire your legs, you can get the transit directions that best suit you. Transit directions and schedules are available for 475 cities around the world.
This year marks the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, celebrating Her Majesty’s 60 years on the throne. To commemorate this special occasion, we’re teaming up with Historypin to launch an interactive online gallery filled with memories of her time as Queen.
The Pinning The Queen’s History project will be made up of photographic images, videos and audio clips pinned directly onto a Google Map on the dedicated Historypin site. This will let you see historical images in modern context within Google Maps.
Throughout her six decades on the throne, The Queen has undertaken hundreds of visits around the United Kingdom and 261 official overseas visits to 116 different countries. Historypin is inviting people from around the world to submit photos, videos and other memories of The Queen during these visits.
Using Google Maps and Street View, the Historypin platform enables you to pinpoint the exact location of where the imagery was captured. They’ll be overlaid onto Street View, so you can compare glimpses of the Queen’s 60-year reign with how they look today.
The collection has been boosted by the provision of images from The Queen’s overseas visits taken by press photographers, and by photographs of items from the Buckingham Palace’s Royal Archives. Items from the Royal Archives include the sitar presented to The Queen during her visit to India in 1997, an earthenware vase presented to the Queen by the Prime Minister of Japan and a map showing the air routes around South Australia during the 1954 Commonwealth Tour.
The interactive gallery is an opportunity for anyone to contribute to and celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on one global platform. We’re honoured that Google Maps can form the foundation of this official gallery.
A few months ago, we shared an engagement story about a Google engineer who used Google Maps to help coordinate an elaborate proposal to his girlfriend. It served as a great example of how Google Maps can be more than just a handy tool for directions; it can help connect you to the places and people you love.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we were once again reminded of the unifying power of maps through our ongoing work with one of America’s most famous malls, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. We recently collaborated with the Mall of America to conveniently bring its indoor floor plans and My Location information to Android mobile users. As the largest indoor retail space in the United States—complete with a theme park and aquarium—finding your way around the Mall of America can be challenging. So we mapped it, enabling you to quickly and easily see where you are and what’s around you from the palm of your hand.
Check out the video below to see how the enormous Mall of America can be scaled down to a romantic setting for two.
Whether it’s through a customized scavenger hunt, search results for a local store with the perfect gift or the best directions to get to your date on time, we hope Google Maps helps you navigate your way to a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
Posted by David Kim, Product Marketing Manager, Google Maps
It’s that time of year again! The stockings are hung by the chimney with care and Google and NORAD are ready to answer the question of “where?”
NORAD’s tradition of tracking Santa on Christmas Eve started in 1955, when a Sears and Roebuck ad promoting the Talk-to-Santa hotline inadvertently sent callers to CONAD (NORAD’s predecessor) commander-in-chief’s operations hotline. After recovering from the surprise that the call was not from the Pentagon or the White House but instead a little boy inquiring if the commander was Santa Claus, Colonel Harry Shoup asked his team to check their radar for signs of Santa’s sleigh and a tradition was born.
The Santa tracking tradition has grown over the years and today it’s also possible to track Santa using Google Earth and Google Maps on the NORAD Santa site, and on your mobile phone as well. Starting tomorrow (Saturday, December 24) at 2:00 a.m. EST, visit www.noradsanta.org to follow Santa’s journey from the North Pole to homes all over the globe. This year there are many ways to keep tabs on Santa’s sleigh, no matter how quickly it moves:
Follow Santa on Google Maps: Visit www.noradsanta.org to see where Santa is currently flying and where he’s headed next on Google Maps. Click on the video icons to watch “Santa cam” videos from all over the world, and the gift icons will display information about each city along the route.
Watch Santa fly in 3D with the Google Earth plug-in: If you have the Google Earth plug-in installed on your computer, you can track Santa’s location in 3D and see him deliver presents everywhere from the mountain villages of the Swiss Alps to the white sand beaches of Hawaii.
Track Santa from your mobile phone: Follow Santa on the go by searching for [santa] on the Google Maps for mobile app.
Get updates via social media: The NORAD team will be posting updates about Santa’s flight throughout the day on December 24. Follow them on Google+, Twitter or Facebook for live updates.
NORAD Tracks Santa is a special project near and dear to all of us involved. I started working on the program seven years ago and it’s been a thrill to watch it grow over the years. Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak at TEDActive about the origins of NORAD Tracks Santa and how Google has brought this to life in Google Earth.
I’d like to thank all of Santa’s “elves” that helped out across Google and NORAD far and wide. Happy Holidays!
Posted by Bruno Bowdon, Lead Google Engineering Elf
Back in July, we announced our initiative to digitally archive the areas of Northeastern Japan affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Today, we’re making good on that promise—after driving more than 44,000 kilometers through the affected regions, 360-degree panoramic imagery of those areas is now available through the Street View feature in Google Maps. The images can also be viewed via a special website called “Build the Memory,” where you can easily compare before and after shots of the towns changed by these events.
A virtual tour via Street View profoundly illustrates how much these natural disasters have transformed these communities. If you start inland and venture out toward the coast, you’ll see the idyllic countryside change dramatically, becoming cluttered with mountains of rubble and debris as you get closer to the ocean. In the cities, buildings that once stood proud are now empty spaces.
In the bottom left corner of each image you’ll also see a month and year that tells you when a particular photograph was taken. When looking at images of the magnificent cities side-by-side with images of the ruins left in their place, this additional context demonstrates how truly life-changing this tragedy has been for those who live there and witnessed the destruction of their homes, neighborhoods and even entire districts. This timestamp feature has been the most requested Street View feature for the last few years, and it is now available on Street View imagery worldwide. Professionals such as historians, architects, city planners and tourism boards—as well as regular users including travelers and home-buyers—can now get a sense of how fresh the online photos are for a locations that interests them.
In the case of the post-tsunami imagery of Japan, we hope this particular digital archiving project will be useful to researchers and scientists who study the effects of natural disasters. We also believe that the imagery is a useful tool for anyone around the world who wants to better understand the extent of the damage. Seeing the street-level imagery of the affected areas puts the plight of these communities into perspective and ensures that the memories of the disaster remain relevant and tangible for future generations.
Posted by Kei Kawai, Senior Product Manager, Street View
Whether you know him as Père Noël, Weihnachtsmann, Babbo Natale, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus, there’s a chance you’re anticipating a visit from the jolly old man this December 24. Although he goes by many different names, the magic he brings to the holidays is felt by children and adults celebrating Christmas all over the world.
Growing up in Lawrence, Kansas, I have fond memories of racing to the tree Christmas morning to see what Santa left during his stop in my town. Sometimes it took a lot of work to stay on the right side of the “naughty or nice” list, but Santa came through for me every year.
Like most traditions, this one has evolved over time. Now, in addition to racing downstairs to their stockings, children can follow Santa online on his annual trip from the North Pole to their chimney. With NORAD Tracks Santa, children and families can watch Santa as he delivers presents all over the globe (with a little help from the North American Aerospace Defense Command). If you haven’t yet followed this tradition in your family, we’d like to invite you to join us this Christmas Eve.
The countdown to track Santa begins today. Visit www.noradsanta.org the entire month of December to play holiday games and learn fun facts about NORAD and Santa. Set a reminder for 2 a.m. EST on December 24 to start tracking Santa in real-time on the website using Google Maps, and in 3D with Google Earth. If your phone is handy on Christmas Eve, you can also search for [santa] on Google Maps for mobile to track his journey on the go.
Wherever you are, we look forward to counting down to the holidays with you at www.noradsanta.org. Be sure to finish all your holiday shopping in time so you can join us for the main event on December 24.
In the meantime, to get into the Santa tracking spirit, follow NORAD Tracks Santa on Google+ and enjoy a few highlights from last year’s journey in this video:
Posted by Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering, Google Earth and Maps
“Where am I?” and “What’s around me?” are two questions that cartographers, and Google Maps, strive to answer. With Google Maps’ “My Location” feature, which shows your location as a blue dot, you can see where you are on the map to avoid walking the wrong direction on city streets, or to get your bearings if you’re hiking an unfamiliar trail. Google Maps also displays additional details, such as places, landmarks and geographical features, to give you context about what’s nearby. And now, Google Maps for Android enables you to figure out where you are and see where you might want to go when you’re indoors.
When you’re inside an airport, shopping mall or retail store, a common way to figure out where you are is to look for a freestanding map directory or ask an employee for help. Starting today, with the release of Google Maps 6.0 for Android, that directory is brought to the palm of your hands, helping you determine where you are, what floor you’re on, and where to go indoors.
Detailed floor plans automatically appear when you’re viewing the map and zoomed in on a building where indoor map data is available. The familiar “blue dot” icon indicates your location within several meters, and when you move up or down a level in a building with multiple floors, the interface will automatically update to display which floor you’re on. All this is achieved by using an approach similar to that of ‘My Location’ for outdoor spaces, but fine tuned for indoors.
Mall of America in Minneapolis before and after, with a floor selector
San Francisco International Airport before and after, with 3D tilt
We’ve initially partnered with some of the largest retailers, airports and transit stations in the U.S. and Japan, including:
Mall of America, IKEA, The Home Depot, select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Daimaru, Taskashimaya and Mitsukoshi locations and more. Watch an IKEA demo here.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Narita International (NRT), among others.
JR and Tokyu Corporation
For a detailed list of participating locations, please visit our help center. And this is just the start–we’ll continually add new indoor maps to public buildings across the world. If you’re a business owner interested in getting your location’s floor plan included in Google Maps, visit maps.google.com/floorplans.
We’re thrilled Google Maps continues to provide you with new and helpful perspectives—whether you’re rushing through the airport or finding your way around a mall. To visit our website and learn more about indoor Google Maps and other features, start here.
Posted by Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering, Google Earth and Maps
From the streets to the slopes, Street View in Google Maps recently updated its special collections to include a number of new ski resorts, so you can tour some of the world’s most beautiful ski terrain right from your browser. Whether you’re planning your annual trip to your favorite resort or hunting for an exciting new adventure, Street View can transport you to your desired destination. Tour a few of our favorite ski resorts below.
First stop off the ski lift is the world famous Squaw Valley, in northern California. Squaw Valley has been a ski destination since it hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1960.
Last, but surely not least, you can tour Whistler Blackcomb, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. We captured Whistler with our Street View cameras last year and made some recent updates. Located in the Coast Mountain range of British Columbia, Whistler, known for both its scenery and adrenaline-pumping runs, is one of the most famous ski destinations in the world.
All snow view imagery was captured by the Street View snowmobile which made its debut two years ago at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. To get a glimpse of a few more resorts you can go to the gallery or watch the video:
Whether you’re a snowbird, a beach bum, an urban adventurer or something else entirely, there’s something for everyone in our growing set of Street View collections. To see some of our favorite special collections, visit the Street View gallery.
Enjoy the slopes!
Posted by Ryan Falor, Product Manager, Street View Special Collections
From the Amazon to the ancient ruins of Pompeii, Street View technology has put imagery of some of the world’s most interesting and significant sites online for everyone to enjoy. Now, for the first time in Google Maps, we’re hitting the train tracks to capture the majesty of the famous railway lines of the Swiss Alps and the surrounding scenery.
In cooperation with Rhaetian Railway, our Street View team has collected images from one of the world’s most scenic railway routes—the Albula-Bernina line in Switzerland—that will soon be live on Google Maps. The picturesque route through the Swiss Alps is one of most famous in the world, winding its way through wild mountain scenery from Thusis, Switzerland; past the resort town of St. Moritz; to its final stop just over the border in Tirano, Italy.
A complex system of tunnels, viaducts and galleries allow the railway line to pass through the narrow valleys and climb almost 2,000 meters in altitude. It’s unique to see technology and architecture like this in a natural landscape, and the route is a popular tourist destination offering amazing photography opportunities.
To capture the stunning scenery for Street View, we mounted our trike—a three-wheel pedicab with a camera system on top—to a flatbed at the front of a train. As the train travelled along the line, cameras facing nine different directions captured still photos of the surrounding areas that we’re now stitching together into 360-degree panoramic views. Soon, we’ll publish the imagery on Google Maps for people around the globe to enjoy and experience themselves. The imagery will provide admirers of this route with completely new perspectives, and also help document and preserve this UNESCO World Heritage site.
In the meantime, enjoy these photos from imagery collection day: