Google Maps is turning 15, and it has emerged as one of the most useful services in India and the world. However, many of the features such as offline-mode, two-wheeler mode, local language support, etc were India-specific or India first. We take a look at these India-related features which are a crucial part of Google Maps.
Maps in offline mode
Google Maps works in offline mode and for India, where network connectivity is very patchy, this can be a life-saver. The feature was definitely created keeping the India market in mind, and Google rolled out offline navigation for India back in 2015, though it came to other markets a bit earlier.
On Android, users can simply tap on a place, and scroll up to see details such as Directions, Save, Share Place and Download. Pressing download shows an option to download a map of the area. It also shows the amount of space that Google Maps will use when downloading that particular area.
Happy 15th Birthday @GoogleMaps! Reflecting today on some of the ways it’s been helpful to me, from getting around more easily to finding a good veggie burrito wherever I am:) Thanks to the support of our users, Maps keeps getting more helpful every day.https://t.co/Q4ky0pEpC3
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) February 6, 2020
On iOS, the download option can be located by tapping the three dots symbol which appears next to the name of a place. Google will again confirm if you wish to download this map area and also show the amount of space being used on your phone.
Offline Maps once downloaded give users turn-by-turn driving directions, along with information about the place such as business hours, etc. Keep in mind that real-time traffic updates do not work in offline mode nor does two-wheeler mode.
This was definitely an India-first feature from Google and launched back in 2017. It shows travel times designed for two-wheelers, which as Google has figured out can take shortcuts not possible for cars or trucks.
The two-wheeler mode provides customised traffic and arrival time estimations for those who are using motorcycles. Google says it took learnings from the two-wheeler mode in India and then took them to other markets in South-East Asia as well, which have similar traffic conditions.
Google Maps SD card support
In August 2016, Google also rolled out an SD card support for Maps on Android. This would allow users to save data because they had the option of saving downloaded Maps to an external memory card.
In India, where SD card slots remain popular in phones, this was definitely a useful addition, especially back in 2016, when most affordable smartphones did not offer more than 16GB base memory.
Stay Safer feature
This is an India-specific feature from Google, which was announced in 2019. The Stay Safer feature will alert users traveling via an auto or taxi when their vehicle goes off-route. It gives users the option of sharing live location with friends and family. One can see it before starting navigation. Tapping on the Stay Safer tab, shows options for sharing Live Trip, which will share location till one arrives at their destination. Users can get alerts for when vehicle is going off-route as well.
Travel time for buses, real-time alerts for trains, auto-rickshaw mode
These are another set of features that Google introduced in 2019 for Maps in India. Google Maps can show travel time for buses in live traffic, real-time train status for Indian Railways trains and it added auto-rickshaw as a commute option for Delhi users. The Railway feature was possible because Google acquired the ‘Where is my train app’.
The bus updates feature is live in the cities of Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chennai, Mysore, Coimbatore, and Surat. In Delhi, commuters can see suggested routes for their auto ride, as well as the estimated fare. The auto option appears inside the public transit option in navigation.
This is another feature that was introduced keeping India in mind, given that many Indians still rely on landmarks when it comes to locating a place. So Google Maps now shows major landmarks on a route to guide users better to their destination. Google says this contextual information is useful for two-wheelers, which ensures that the user does not have to keep checking their phone while driving.
Maps in Local languages
Google Maps in India shows local listings, and road names in two languages. Ten local languages are supported for dual-labeling. These are Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Nepali. It also offers voice navigation in Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam.
This feature is only in Delhi and Bangalore in India. It basically combines auto-rickshaw and other public transport travel for users and shows how much time it will take, which station to take the auto-rickshaw from, etc.
Public Toilets information
Started back in 2016 in Delhi, Bhopal and Indore, Google Maps now shows public toilets in 2300+ Indian cities. It lists over 57,000 public toilets. This was started in partnership with Swachh Bharat Mission and Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines