6 Interesting Features of Google Maps

Google has been upgrading tons of high-resolution Streetview imagery with its fleet of Google Streetview cars, trikes, trolley, snowmobiles, and earth satellites to supports some exciting new Maps features.

Here are some of the most interesting of the new and not-so-new features of Google Maps that can smooth your travels, simplify your errands and even enhance your lifestyle.

Explore Nearby

Explore, Google's high-profile major new feature must be experienced! "Explore is a fast and easy way to visually browse and discover new places without even typing," says Google. Simply tap the search box for your current location or intended destination, click on "Explore nearby" and you'll see a series of photos of great new places to eat, drink, sleep and shop. Major metropolitan areas will show cards for top restaurants, quick bites, coffee bars, parks, museums, attractions, etc. Each of the offerings links to maps, reviews, webpages and business hours, even sparing you fruitless trips with thoughtful notices: "closed today". You can view locations in Streetview, walk around where you please and explore other interesting nearby places just as if you were there in person. Save the maps for offline viewing and share your discoveries to meet up with your friends.

Visit Attractions

Google's Streetview Partner program has worked with hundreds of parks, universities, stadiums, malls and businesses to present their interior views for potential visitors and customers.
Google's Streetview is also used in Google Art Project to showcase the interior of spectacular museums or famous attractions. Among these are the Chateau de Fontainebleau, the Palace of Versailles, the Doge's Palace, the Metropolitan Museum, Danish Parliament, White House, Acropolis Museum, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, National Gallery of Australia, Royal Palaces Amsterdam, Pushkin Museum.

In a lighter vein, here are two of the best Easter eggs in Google Maps Streetview: you can view a blue police box in a London streetview that opens into Doctor Who's Tardis; and you can walk through Diagon Alley in an actual Harry Potter movie set.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Travel

Google maps route directions often includes a choice of two or three most likely routines. In each case, you will get turn-by-turn navigation, distance and travel time. You may be presented with a choice of two or three most likely routes. To deviate from Google's suggestions, click and drag the route to go your preferred way, and Google will accommodate your choice, recalculating distances, times and new turn-by-turn directions, the same as it does for automobiles. Google Maps app on iPhones and iPads will announce these turns as they navigate for you in real time.
When you select bicycle transportation, you are routed along public roadways, with turn-by-turn navigation, distance, and travel time. There is an option to show bike paths on the map. Unique to the bicycle route is an elevation view of the route that depicts beginning, ending, highest and lowest elevations. In addition to Map/Earth views, Terrain view shows the ruggedness of the country over which you are traveling.

Local Transportation

For large metropolitan areas Google has incorporated buses, subways and trains, so routes inside cities or between towns will show up as a combination of local transport and long-distance bus/shuttle/rail. Transit routes can be a series of trip segments beginning with walking from your starting point to the nearest transit bus/subway stop, then a sequence of bus/subway/shuttle/train segments that will take you to your final destination. Arrival and departure times at all the transfers points along the way are given, and the total time of travel, along with links to each transit system.

Driving Updates

Google Maps now shows road work areas or traffic accidents in more detail. Two new features were added into current traffic conditions to help navigate around traffic conditions. As Google reports: "You can now see reports of problems on the road that you can tap to see incident details. While on the road, Google Maps will also alert you if a better route becomes available and reroute you to your destination faster." The latest upgrade to Maps now also shows traffic lanes on the road you're driving and highlights the one you need to take for the next juncture or exit.

Enhanced Earth View

Google Map Earth view incorporates the continent, ocean and atmospheric details from Google Earth, showing continental edges oceanic trenches, and reefs. Display options such as traffic, local transportation routes, are visible in Earth view as well as map view. From space, you can also spin the globe with a sweep of the trackpad like you can in Google Earth. You can also extract latitude and longitude data of your location to use with GPS devices.

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