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Google Maps turns 15 today and receives a major update for iOS and Android users


Google Maps is having a celebration for its 15th birthday which happens to be today. And instead of the birthday app receiving gifts and cake, iOS and Android users will the recipient of goodies through a major update to the app. Once a staid tool for navigation, Google Maps has become the app to turn to when you want to discover what exciting things are going on at your current location, and where you can find the best eateries in town.

The app has surely come a long way from its release in 2005 and Google says that over 1 billion people around the world depend on it to get from point "A" to point "B" quickly and safely. The new update is rolling out today and you'll know that you've received it when there are five tabs at the bottom of the screen. The five are Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute, Update.

Take a moment out of your day to wish Google Maps a happy 15th birthday

As you might imagine, the Explore tab will give you ratings, reviews and more information about restaurants, attractions, and landmarks near your current location. This would be the tab to turn to when you've just arrived in a new city and are bored out of your gourd. The Commute tab does exactly what the name suggests, safely and efficiently take you from point "A" to point "B." A daily commute can be set up to give you advance warnings about traffic, accidents, travel times and potential alternative routes.
So you loved the brisket on rye and the black and white cookies at that one deli you visited when on a business trip to Kalamazoo. To help you remember the name of that restaurant for your next trip to that city, the Saved tab will do the remembering for you. Google says that Maps users have saved over 6.5 billion locations. The Contribute tab allows you to make, well, contributions to Maps about places that you have visited. This information includes "details about roads and addresses, missing places, business reviews and photos," and will help other Maps users make decisions about where to eat and what places they should visit. The Updates tab is brand-spanking new and shares information about the trending "must-see spots" to visit at your current location. It also will be the place on Google Maps where you can share your own personal recommendations and chat directly with businesses. The update will expand the use of the AR-based "Live View" when talking a walking route. Arrows and directions are overlaid on a real-world view of your location. Over the coming months, Google will expand the feature's capabilities. For example, you soon will be able to determine the direction and distance a particular place is from your current location.

If you take public transportation, you'll get feedback from those who rode a particular train or bus route about the temperature inside the vehicle and whether said vehicle is accessible to disabled commuters. In markets where public transportation has a special designated women's sections, Maps will point it out and even note whether local commuters follow the rules in that region. It's not unusual to be concerned about the security on public vehicles and Google Maps will now let you know whether there are security guards or security cameras on board and whether there is a helpline that can be called. In some markets, Google Maps will show the number of carriages available on a vehicle. As Google points out, "In Japan only, you can pick a route based on the number of carriages so that it increases your chances of getting a seat."

Lastly, Google has updated the Google Maps icon and the accompanying video shows how the icon has changed over the years.

Google Maps has come a long way and it wasn't even two when Apple included it on the OG iPhone on June 29th, 2007. The toddler started growing up and began talking and giving turn-by-turn directions on November 6th, 2009 when the Motorola Droid was released sporting Android 2.0.

So let's all take a few minutes to wish Google Maps a happy 15th birthday. Who knows? Perhaps by its 30th birthday, Google Maps will be transporting us to the locations we look up on the app.

New reasons to get excited every week

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