Google Maps is a digital mapping service that allows you to calculate directions, view traffic conditions, and find the precise location of a place on a map. The app is available for free on mobile devices running Android or iOS. It is also accessible from internet browsers.
Download Google Maps – Navigation and public transport for Android
Google LLC Developer | Updated on 03/09/2021
What is Google Maps
Google Maps is a free mapping tool designed to let you view maps and locate the precise location of a place. The service also allows you to calculate a route for your trips when you use different modes of transport. The app was launched in February 2005 following Google’s takeover of Australian start-up Where 2 Technologies.
The popularity of Google Maps among its users is phenomenal. In 2017 alone, the Maps app for Android registered nearly 2 billion users. More recently, in 2020, this online mapping service was used by over 1 billion people per month.
The service offered by Google Maps is available on computers (Windows, macOS, Linux) through internet browsers. Maps also offers a mobile app that you can use on your tablet or mobile phone.
Why use Google Maps?
Google Maps currently lists the maps of more than 220 countries around the world. Along with these maps are added millions of descriptions (addresses, photos, etc.) and user comments about the various places on the surface of the globe. Maps is relatively complete in terms of functionality and that is the reason for its success. Here we present a list of the main features of the application.
One of the main features of Google Maps is route planning. This feature allows users to find routes for trips by car, public transport, bicycle or on foot.
If you choose the public transport mode of travel, Maps is able to provide you with the different types of transport (bus, metro, tram, etc.) available on your route. The route planner is able to calculate the duration of your trip depending on the mode of transport you choose and the bus schedules, for example. Google has partnered with more than 800 transportation companies to give you access to more reliable information.
Also, Maps can offer you several routes to take if you want to avoid toll sections when traveling by car or with the least connection when traveling by train. You therefore have the possibility of plotting your route yourself and the platform will take care of offering you the best routes.
Since 2007, Google Maps has integrated its own traffic alert system. It is actually a tool that allows you to know the flow of traffic on your route, but also to get an accurate estimate of the duration of your journey. The tool will be able to offer you specific routes depending on the density of traffic or traffic jams.
The display of traffic data on the map is done using color codes. Thus, for each road or highway, a color ranging from green to red is used to represent the traffic intensity. The roads in green are the most fluid and those in red, the most congested. Traffic conditions are obtained from data transmitted by the cell phones of thousands of users. This data is anonymous and is transmitted automatically when you activate the location of your phone.
The Google Street View feature is a tool that gives you 360-degree street-level visualization. The option is available by clicking on a small character located in the zoom tools. You will then get a 3-dimensional rendering of everything that is at street level (buildings, pedestrians, infrastructure, etc.) and you even have the possibility of visually browsing a neighborhood or a street by orienting yourself using arrows. directional available on the screen. This feature is available for thousands of cities around the world and even for some college campuses.
45 degree imaging
The “45 degree image” feature has been available on Google Maps since December 2009. It was limited to the city of San Jose and San Diego in the United States. The system allows you to obtain a 45-degree aerial image of a particular city, neighborhood or monument with a rendering similar to the view a bird would have flying in the sky. Since 2010, this tool has been available for the majority of cities in the USA and the main world cities.
The “Indoor Maps” feature of Google Maps was added to the application in March 2011. It is a tool that allows you to visit the interior of airports, museums, shopping malls, universities and many more. other public spaces. You can even visually browse the different floors or levels as well as the underground passages of certain buildings.
This feature allows you to create custom cards for your personal use or to share with your loved ones. You have the possibility to add points, shapes, notes and images to your map using the visual editor of Google Maps. As a result, the tool allows you to quickly find your places of interest or share a route with your colleagues.
The “Local Guide” feature is a tool developed in Maps to allow you to contribute to the enrichment of the application and to make the maps closer to reality. You have the option to add photos, videos and comments to the map. You can also correct or add information that will be useful for the user community.
What are the new features of Google Maps?
The new features brought by Maps are numerous and Google continues to provide updates to better meet user expectations.
Among the latest innovations observed, those related to the pandemic come first. Thus, we notice that Google has enriched the Street View functionality by adding 250 new features intended to facilitate our movements. Improving its COVID-19 layer to include the number of contamination cases by region is one of them.
Google has also developed a tool for Maps capable of measuring the number of people on public transport in real time. According to Google, this functionality is based on information submitted by users in the form of comments and surveys in real time.
There are two ways to get Google Maps. If you opt for the online platform, there will be no installation to perform on your devices. All you need to do is go to the official Google Maps website with your internet browser and you will be able to take full advantage of the service’s features. The platform is accessible on mobile devices but also on any computer and regardless of the operating system.
If you choose to use Google Maps on your smartphone or tablet, you will need to download the mobile application for free. This is available in the Play Store for Android devices and in the App Store for iPhone or iPad. The minimum system requirements are Android 5.0 and iOS 11.0.
What are the alternatives to Google Maps?
The free HERE WeGo mapping software is a direct competitor of Google Maps. It is a tool developed by the firm HERE Apps LLC available as an online service on the internet and as a mobile application on Android and iOS. Just like Maps, HERE WeGo allows you to calculate routes according to different modes of transport (car, public transport, on foot, etc.). The software also allows you to download maps, 3-dimensional visualization or GPS navigation when you are on mobile.
Waze is an interesting alternative to Maps. Waze is a driving and navigation assistant. The service is based on customizable mapping and the use of satellite mapping. Available on mobile (Android or iOS), the tool was developed by a subsidiary of Google. Waze uses the principle of participatory mapping to create its maps. In other words, it uses the information provided free of charge by its user community to simulate traffic conditions or suggest a route.
We will end with Mappy, the free, purely French mapping and route planning service. Designed by RATP, this service covers more than 320 French and European cities. It is available as an online service and as a mobile application. Just like Maps, Mappy allows you to calculate a route and also offers you the possibility of comparing several modes of transport. Mappy also allows you to geolocate places of interest such as restaurants or hotels.