Google re­veals a more per­sonal Maps

A re­designed Explore in­ter­face and a For You tab make Google Maps bet­ter at be­ing your lo­cal guide, writes BRAD CHACOS

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Ma­chine learn­ing can give you a ver­sion of the In­ter­net tai­lored to fit your spe­cific needs and wants. Google has been beat­ing that drum for years, but the vi­sion man­i­fested it­self in fresh, im­pres­sive ways in an over­hauled Google Maps app re­vealed dur­ing the com­pany’s I/O key­note. And then Google knocked our socks off with a thrilling vi­sion of how aug­mented re­al­ity and com­puter vi­sion could rad­i­cally trans­form walk­ing di­rec­tions in the fu­ture.

A re­designed Explore tab and a new For You tab will make Maps more per­sonal for each of its one bil­lion-plus users in the com­ing months, as the in­ter­face will be pop­u­lated with restau­rants, busi­nesses, and ac­tiv­i­ties from your lo­cal haunts. The fo­cus will be on in­ter­est­ing events (such as new store open­ings) and per­sonal recommendations to get you to try new things.

Beyond mere phys­i­cal prox­im­ity, the new Explore and For You tabs cull their recommendations by cross-ref­er­enc­ing trend­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the area as well as the vast trea­sure trove of in­for­ma­tion stored about you on Google’s servers. If you pre­fer Greek restau­rants, for ex­am­ple, For You will lean to­ward those, and con­versely avoid culi­nary se­lec­tions that you loathe.

The cards for busi­nesses that appear in your feeds will in­clude a ‘Your Match’ rat­ing that’s essen­tially Google’s guess at whether you’ll like a given busi­ness, once again pulling in­for­ma­tion from your per­sonal pro­file. If you like healthy food and Greek cui­sine, a new healthy Greek eatery would appear in For You with a high Your Match score, whereas a greasy spoon might not rate so highly.

Pick­ing a restau­rant to hang out at so­cially can be dif­fi­cult even with the power of per­son­al­ized recommendations. Google Maps is gain­ing a ‘Short­list’ fea­ture that lets you se­lect a hand­ful of busi­nesses to share with your friends to help nar­row down the se­lec­tion, elim­i­nat­ing the need to pass around links in a group text. Your pals can add recommendations of their own and vote for which place they want to visit.

To make things even more per­sonal, Google As­sis­tant is bring­ing its AI smarts to Maps later this sum­mer.

Fi­nally, Google also teased a po­ten­tial fu­ture fea­ture that taps into your phone’s cam­era to dras­ti­cally change how the walk­ing di­rec­tions func­tion. Blend­ing ‘com­puter vi­sion’ with ma­chine learn­ing from the cloud trans­forms Maps into a Street View-like aug­mented re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ence. Hold­ing up your cam­era still show a tiny sliver of the map (as you can see in the screen­shot on page 8), but also the world around you – and the world is over­laid with vis­ual di­rec­tions to your des­ti­na­tion, as well as popup cards dis­play­ing info of any busi­nesses you pass. You might even be able to add a vir­tual guide to your des­ti­na­tion (a fox, in Google’s demon­stra­tion).

Think of the new on-foot in­ter­face for Google Maps like a supremely handy Franken­steinian mash-up of Google Lens and Google Day­dream. The com­pany didn’t an­nounce any firm plans for the AR re­vamp’s roll­out, but we can’t wait to get out hands on it – as­sum­ing this aug­mented re­al­ity vi­sion be­comes ac­tual re­al­ity one day, that is.

Google Maps will now rec­om­mend places to visit

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