The yearly Google I/O conference is a much-awaited event not just for developers and tech geeks, but even for ordinary users of Google products since they usually make major announcements that will impact our digital life. But even Google I/O is not enough to stay Update Wednesday, as Google just announced massive updates to such apps and utilities like Drive, Search and Maps.
The Google Drive for Android is now updated to make it faster and easier to look for files, as well as features where you can see who else has access to the file, what were the last changes made and even enable offline access for your device for those times where the Internet will fail you. The web version of Google Drive will also be updated in the next few weeks with a new look and speedier access as well. They have also localised Google Drive into 70 different languages, and optimized some of the features to make it easier for visually impaired users. Meanwhile, Google Drive for Business now has a premium offering for companies at $10/user/month. This already includes unlimited storage, uploading files up to 5TB (what kind of file is that big?) and better security and admin controls.
Meanwhile, Google Search on Android got even easier as the update allows the “Ok google” hotword to be said from anywhere in your phone, not just on the Google search page. It will make it more convenient when you’re searching for something and you’re in other apps or even from the lock screen. You will also now have Audio History on your Google Search app where it takes a look at your past voice searches to build a profile and make your searches more accurate. It even studies how you pronounce certain words or even the cadence of your voice so it can understand you better. But if you think that’s a violation of your privacy already, you can opt-out of that feature.
Google Maps has also made small but significant changes to the app. When you view your map, there are now search results on the side which may help you make a quick decision on which restaurant to eat in that area. For those who spend most of their time walking or commuting, the transit results of your search now also show your total walking time to your destination or when is the next scheduled bus or train to that place. Maps also now has an Access Terrain view to give you a 3D view of the area if you’re looking for a place that has a wide landscape or elevated view.
Google Maps rolled out a massive update that added better offline maps, improved navigation and Uber integration.
But while the update is huge, many of the best new features are subtly tucked away and easy to miss. Here’s our guide to Maps’ best new features, and how you can take advantage of them:
Navigation has long been one of Google Maps’ core features. With the 3.0 update, Google has enhanced the service by adding several improvements to how routes are displayed, including better route guidance and more accessible route information.
Navigation now includes lane guidance, which lets you know whether you are in the correct lane, and gives drivers a heads-up when it’s time to move over. In the U.S., lane guidance is available for highways and local roads in “major metropolitan areas.” Outside of the U.S., this feature is available for Canadian highways and non-highway roads in Japan.
Google also improved the way routes are displayed within Maps, making it easier to view route details. After selecting a route, users can now view the estimated travel and arrival time, as well as total distance, while in navigation mode. And all maps now include a scale bar to help estimate distances.
Taking public transit? Plan your route
Google Maps is a mainstay for many who rely on public transportation to get around. Google has now made transit directions even better by adding new ways for users to plan their route.
Users can plan routes based on desired departure or arrival time, or choose “last” to see when the last available transit will be. This feature, available under the “options” menu,” is particularly handy in cites such as San Francisco where public transportation doesn’t run all night in many areas.
Additionally, when you search for transit (or walking) directions, the results now surface estimates for an Uber ride if you have the app installed. “Get an Uber,” appears at the end of the list,” along with an estimate of how long said Uber ride will take. Selecting this option opens the Uber app where you can request a ride.
Get better search results
Search results have also been fine-tuned in Maps to give users more control over the results, and to make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for.
When searching for restaurants, bars and hotels, users can now filter search results by price, rating and whether or not an establishment is currently open.
To take advantage of the new feature, simply tap the filter button in the search bar or the results page, and select the desired filters. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t save filter preferences, so you will have to apply the filters again with each new search.
Google also added a series of features that make it easier to search for destinations, including voice-enabled searching, which can be activated by tapping the microphone icon in the search bar. Maps also now integrates with your device’s contacts, so you can search for destinations based on information stored in your address book.
Going offline? Save Maps for later
Tuesday’s update wasn’t the first time Google made offline maps available, though it may be the first time many users have seen the feature. Previously, maps could only be saved for offline viewing by typing “OK Maps” into the app’s search bar.
With the Maps 3.0, Google has put offline maps front and center, so users can easily save maps of any location they search by tapping the place card, scrolling to the bottom and tapping “save map to use offline.”
Saved maps are available across devices, and can be accessed by tapping the profile icon next to the search bar.
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