Google Maps, as a mapping platform, sprang from rather modest beginnings. Google purchased Where 2 Technologies, a tiny Sydney-based business, and their concept for a web-based mapping application in 2004. In addition, Google purchased ZipDash, a real-time traffic intelligence startup, and Keyhole, a business that visualises spatial data.
Google first introduced Google Maps in February 2005, incorporating features from these further purchases. In the same year, Google Earth was introduced, offering three-dimensional views of the earth.
Google Street View, real-time traffic updates, and the initial Google Maps mobile app were released in 2006, two years later. In 2009, turn-by-turn navigation made its debut. Five years later, business reviews, ratings, and listings appeared.
2015 saw the release of offline maps, and 2019 saw the release of Live view, which made use of augmented reality to help with exploration and navigation. Recently, Indoor Live view was also included for indoor navigation in certain US locations, such as airports and malls. Google Maps is still being updated and expanded upon in 2021.
Features of Google Maps
• Getting Around
Depending on the mode of transportation you’re using, Google’s Route Planner displays every route that can get you from point A to point B, along with the fastest one and an estimated travel time. You can have a kind voice guiding you the entire way—for example, instructing you to “Turn right in 10 meters”—if you have turn-by-turn voice navigation.
• Updates on Traffic in Real Time
Being stopped in traffic is the worst feeling in the world. That is simply a universal fact. By displaying the routes with the most and least traffic, Google Maps assists you in avoiding that maze of moving cars.
• View from the Street
Google Street View makes every effort to provide you with an experience that closely mimics being there. 360-degree panoramic street-level photos are available on Google Maps at a number of global locales.
• Listings for Businesses
For any business with a physical presence, having a correct listing on Google Maps is becoming essential. It’s incredible how much free advertising there is. Additionally, customers are able to locate what they desire and acquire directions to it.
Photographs and reviews can be added by users to the listing. One of the most advantageous aspects is that users may view the opening and closing times of a location as well as the busiest times of the day at that location.
• Sky View
You can see the Earth as it might seem from space if you launch Google Maps on your computer and select Globe View. It may be rotated, zoomed into, and used to view other solar system planets.
Due to the fact that a 2D map is never realistic in wider perspectives, you will see the Earth as it actually is. Globe view and other features are accessible through the separate Google Earth app, but this function is not available on the smartphone app.
How Does Google Map Work?
Google’s strengths are what make Google Maps function so well. gathering of data. The basic idea behind how maps function is gathering a vast quantity of data, analysing it, and then making it publicly visible.
The fact that Google doesn’t develop this vast and precise collection of location data all by itself is the secret. Google Maps leverages information gathered from a vast number of sources, ranging from end users to government organisations, to maintain the most recent version of the system.
Base Map Partner Program
In order to obtain information on points of interest, new roads, aerial photography, transit routes, schedules, and fares, among other things, Google Maps works with other organisations.
Thousands of different governmental and non-governmental organisations from all over the world, such as the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) in Mexico, the US Geological Survey, municipal and town councils, and so on, are considered partners.
The issue with using third-party sources is that the quality of maps may be negatively impacted by legislative limits and policy changes. Defining borders for disputed areas also presents issues.
Satellite imagery is used by Google Earth and Google Maps to provide aerial views. In order to ensure that data gathered from other sources was not misreported or outdated, satellite images are also employed for verification.
Satellites record things like building locations, spacing, and street markers. In addition to providing you with a top-down picture of your home when you choose satellite view, you can overlay this imagery over base maps to display building shapes in the standard 2D map view.
When it comes to mapping, crowdsourcing is particularly crucial in developing nations or those with tight government regulations, as Google might not have direct access to reliable data.
Users used to be able to update maps on Google Maps, however after vandalism was reported, the feature was removed from the primary mapping site. The Local Guides community assists with enhancing maps with more information, but does not alter maps inadvertently.
Typically, sources are used to create business listings. However, businesses are advised to use the Google My firm service to register their firm and give proper information in order to prevent duplicate listings, merging of entries, and misleading information. In the US, large businesses even provide interior navigation.
User-contributed information gives businesses access to extra information such as opening and closing hours, images, and reviews. According to Google data, about 20 million contributions are made daily by users.
Additionally essential for identifying mistakes that are impossible to identify without human intervention are user-generated error reports.
Street View Vehicles
Google’s own street view cars as well as user contributions provide 360-degree photos for Street View.
In addition to cars, Google also has a fleet of three-wheelers and snowmobiles. The Trolley is a camera system akin to a push cart, while Trekker is a wearable backpack.
Underwater cameras and other custom setups are employed in unique situations. Google captured the Great Barrier Reef on their first underwater excursion.
The data that already exists from other sources is additionally checked and corrected using data from street view cars. Street signs can even be utilised to update company listings with correct addresses when they are photographed here and processed using OCR or other similar technologies.
Around 250 Street View vehicles are reportedly on the road today, according to estimates.
Google’s mapping tours are primarily focused on the US, followed by Europe and other well-known travel destinations. Accordingly, street view coverage is scarce in developing nations, with the majority of it coming from user contributions.
Location Data From Users
Whether you realise it or not, when you use Google Maps and maintain location services on your phone, you are giving Google Maps access to your personal information.
Google used to predict traffic conditions using data from traffic cams and other sources, but a much more efficient approach is in place these days. Every smartphone that uses Google Maps sends its location and movement speed to Google, and information is gathered from several of these phones while they are out and about.
With a reasonable degree of accuracy, the traffic density of a location may be predicted using this real-time data in conjunction with historical information on the typical traffic at that location.
Massive amounts of data are brought in by satellites, Street View cars, and user contributions. Some of this data can be automatically processed and added to Google Maps.
AI image processing is essential to keeping up with such a massive data set. The process of creating maps is automated through the use of machine learning models, which can also be used to read street signs from Street View data and refine building outlines in satellite pictures.
Top-secret algorithms are needed to keep the machinery operating, but they also organise data, check for faults, and merge data from many sources to create a complete picture.
However, automation is limited in what it can accomplish. Workers at Google who are human examine user-submitted error reports, check the material, and make the required corrections.
Google Maps appears dedicated to its goal of charting the whole planet. It’s honing its methods and coming up with fresh ideas to precisely fit all the missing parts to create a whole picture.
The numbers, when you look at them, are astounding. As of 2019, 36 million square miles of satellite photos from Google Earth have been used to map out 98% of the world’s inhabited landmass.
Additionally, 10 million miles of imagery have been taken by Google Street View vehicles. How much that is beyond most of us to even fathom. Ten million miles is greater than the distance travelled if one were to circle the Earth 400 times, to put things into perspective.
Google Maps is developing rapidly. It is going to be possible to view a map that encompasses the entire planet in three dimensions and allows you to explore every aspect.