Google beefs up Google Maps, unveils new features such as weather layer, air quality filter

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2021 06:00 PM

Google beefs up Google Maps, unveils new features such as weather layer, air quality filter 1
Weather and air quality layer on the Google Maps. Handout

MANILA - Google said Tuesday it is introducing upgrades to Google Maps to make it even more accurate and extend its usefulness beyond navigation. 

Google Maps vice president Dane Glasgow said the company is creating a "living and breathing map" that is constantly being updated to keep up with the changing times. 

One of the new features of Google Maps, which is set to launch globally "in the coming months," is the Weather Layer where users can see hourly and weekly weather and temperature forecasts in specific areas, Glasgow said. 

Aside from getting help in locating a place, it can also help tell users what the weather is going to be like in a particular place before the user goes there. 

"With the new weather layer, you can quickly see current and forecasted temperature and weather conditions in an area — so you’ll never get caught in the rain without an umbrella," Glasgow said.

The feature will be available for Android and iOS users, the global technology firm said.

Another feature launching soon is the Air Quality Layer which is set to roll out in Australia, India and the US in the coming months, Google said. 

This feature is available wherever AQI (air quality index) stations are available, Google said.

"And the new air quality layer shows you how healthy (or unhealthy) the air is — information that’s especially helpful if you have allergies or are in a smoggy or fire-prone area," Glasgow said in a blog post.

Google said it tapped several partners such as The Weather Company, AirNow.gov and the Central Pollution Board for the new features.

Google Maps is also providing more eco-friendly options with inputs from the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab.

Another new feature of Google Maps allows users to choose routes with the least fuel consumption based on factors such as traffic and road incline. If options are available, users can choose between the fastest or the most eco-friendly route, he said. 

Google Maps is also working on alerts to help drivers navigate "low emission zones" or areas that restrict polluting vehicles, Google said.

The feature launched in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the UK on Android and iOS last June with more countries coming soon.

Google introduced more upgrades to Google Maps to make it more accurate and up-to-date. The global tech firm said it is on track to introduce over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps.

Google Maps is also introducing an “indoor live view” feature using augmented reality that will help users navigate airports, train stations and malls. 

The company has yet to announce when Google Maps' new features will become available in the Philippines. 

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