What you need to know
- The latest Google Maps update improves public transit recommendations with station entrances/exits and new route customizations.
- You can now react to Maps' photos and reviews with emoji, including AI-based Emoji Kitchen emoji.
- The November update also adds collaborative Google Maps lists.
The latest Google Maps update has two main takeaways: Google is throwing emoji into everything, and figuring out public transit in major cities is about to become much less frustrating.
Traditionally, Google Maps will show where a public transit station is, but not necessarily every station entrance or which entrance to take to end up on the right platform. Maps results also lacked finesse, typically choosing the "closest" station but not whether or not it was the best station to take.
In this Google blog post, Google Maps product director Amanda Leicht Moore explains that the update will ensure you know "you're catching the right train in the right direction" in 80 major cities worldwide.
You'll also have the option to specify parameters like "fewest transfers, less walking, wheelchair-accessible, or lowest cost," in addition to the default route. These updates will come to both Android and iOS "in the coming weeks," hopefully sooner rather than later.
More immediately, Google Maps now allows you to react to a photo, video, or review with an emoji. Specifically, Google says it'll take advantage of Emoji Kitchen tech to create custom emoji reactions based on whatever photo you're looking at. For example, if you're using the "hungry" emoji for a bagel pic, it'll generate a hungry bagel. Google also added Emoji Kitchen to Google Search back in September.
The final new Google Maps feature involves Lists. You'll now be able to create a collaborative list that's shared with friends or family in order to plan out a trip.
"Everyone in your group can add places they’re interested in visiting, and vote with an emoji, like a heart ❤️, if you think it’s a must-see spot or a thumbs down 👎 for places you’d rather not visit," Moore explains.
You'll also be able to "customize your list with its own emoji, like a snowflake ❄️ or ice skate ⛸, so the places are identified by that emoji right on your map." Like the advanced public transit directions, this update will arrive "in the coming weeks."
Google Maps has gotten tons of new features in recent months. An October update added including new AI tricks like the "Lens with Maps" feature that combines AI with augmented reality to quickly and easily identify locations around you. It's also expanded Immersive View for routes to more cities.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.