Google / Innovation · July 15, 2022

Google’s plan to perfect Google Maps

Have you ever been in a situation where you booked a cab and the driver had trouble finding you?

It happened to me once and it was frustrating. I was at my relatives’ place from where I had to go to attend a class. While booking a cab, I noticed that the app wasn’t picking my location when I was putting in the house number, so I had to position the map manually (and I wasn’t even aware of these surroundings). 

The app showed that my cab is 10 minutes away but for the next 20 minutes, the cab driver kept going in loops, unable to find me. I barely reached the class in time.

For big cities, Google Maps are pretty extensive but the same kind of information density isn’t available for all places. This is not just limited to house numbers but information about a lot of stores and their phone numbers, opening hours, images, street names, etc. are also missing from Google Maps.

Google is well aware of this problem and seems to be working on a new and innovative way to solve it. It has been described in Google’s recent patent and that’s what I am going to discuss next.

Google already has a Local Guide feature on its maps app. It allows anyone with the app on their phone to add photos of places, write reviews, answer questions and add/edit places. This is Google’s way of crowdsourcing information about places.

Now, this new patent adds another layer to Local Guide. The app will sense when you are in the vicinity of a particular place that has some of the information missing on Google Maps. If so, you may receive a notification requesting you to add that information.

When you tap on that notification, a map will appear. On that map, several nearby locations may be highlighted, each showing the kinds of information being requested. For example, if an image is required, a camera icon might appear.

At this point, you might be thinking why would anyone spend time and effort to improve Google Maps? Answer: internet points. Local Guides already offers incentives in the form of

points, badges, etc. Looking at how much information Local Guides is already generating, they seem to be enough to motivate a lot of people to add such information.

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P.S. Cover Photo by henry perks on Unsplash