Google Maps' latest update solves one of the worst problems in rural areas

Google Maps Lifestyle
Google Maps Lifestyle (Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has announced new updates to Maps during its Search On event.
  • The search giant introduced the Address Maker app that allows governments and NGOs to easily assign addresses to rural communities.
  • Google Maps is also getting a new feature that lets you see wildfires and tree canopy on your mobile device.

Google's Search On event on Wednesday has seen a few updates that should make it easier to discover "under-addressed communities" and locate previously missing roads on Google Maps.

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

The navigation service is trying to address one of the biggest problems in remote communities: nameless streets. To that end, Google has announced the Address Maker app, which relies on its open-source system called Plus Codes to assign functional addresses to those areas.

Google noted how difficult it can be for many people around the world who do not have an address to simply have a package delivered to their door or open a bank account. Local governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can now easily generate addresses for those people using the app. Previously, that process used to take almost forever.

Address Maker is already used by governments and non-governmental organizations in The Gambia, Kenya, India, South Africa, and the United States. Google says it intends to add more partners to the app in the future.

In addition, the Mountain View-based company has added new Maps features that should make it easier to get an aerial view of wildfires and tree coverage. The navigation app is getting a new wildfire layer that will provide real-time updates on multiple fires at the same time.

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

If you are in an affected area, you can gain immediate access to resources and assistance from local authorities by simply tapping on a red mark in the app that indicates the occurrence of a fire. The new feature will be available globally this week on many of the best Android phones, followed by iOS devices and desktop in October.

Google has also collaborated with the National Interagency Fire Center in the United States to display more types of fire. The company intends to bring that capability to Australia and other countries in the coming months.

In 2022, Google plans to bring its Tree Canopy insights to more than 100 cities around the world, including Guadalajara, London, Sydney, and Toronto. The goal is to assist local governments in developing better sustainability plans and mapping tools by utilizing relevant data.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.

  • I would like to be able to assign my home address myself. I reported the addresses for the houses in my whole street to Google Maps 3 weeks ago and still have not received an answer.
    Google Maps slow service is compounded by Tesla's stubbornness. They don't allow me to set my home in the car's map application using coordinates or Google's Plus codes. I must enter an address. Since my house is not registered in Google Maps I cannot do that (it has been registered in Here Maps for years, but Google is failing here too).
    So, if I click on the map to set my home, it uses the closest registered street (there are no houses registered around here). The street that Google Maps assigns to my house is outside of my gated community. Completely nonsense.
    The problem is not about routing alone. You can define specific behavior for the car when it is at home. However, my car is never at home because thanks to Google and Tesla I cannot mark my house as home.
    If you are wondering, my home is not in a remote place in a country that Google has no presence. I live in San Juan, Puerto Rico A United States territory. A US Postal Service mailman comes to my house every day and my house has an address assigned by Also, I pay YouTube Premium and Google charges the local state taxes - they do business locally and have my address.
  • Great. Maybe now they'll finally accept that roads don't always have names. There's one near me that doesn't -- but Google read the name of an adjoining street from Street View and applied it to the wrong road. And the user interface won't accept a correction that just deletes the name... Their whole approach to accuracy is dire. I've given up on Google Maps because I just can't trust it.