Google Maps provides real-time GPS navigation, traffic, transit, and details about millions of places. Google India on Tuesday announced three features to make navigating and finding places easier-
In a blog post, Suren Ruhela, Director, Google Maps Next Billion Users, noted,
Our objective has always been about organizing all location-related information, and making it more accessible and relevant for Indian users. Address search is critical for delivering on this mission... In India, we know how challenging it can be to reach a given residential address."
Addresses are unique in format, and vary across regions, localities, and use cases. While some addresses are well-defined by street names and house numbers that are easy to find, others can be long-winded and hard to locate.
The other reality is that millions of people and places in India are hard to locate -- especially those in remote areas. With Plus Codes, a new location-based digital addressing system, Google wants to make it easier to fill in places that are not already on Google Maps.
Google has developed an open-sourced solution -- Plus Codes -- which represents a simple and consistent addressing system that works across India and globally. This system is based on dividing the geographical surface of the Earth into tiny ‘tiled areas’, attributing a unique code to each of them.
This code comprises a ‘Six-character + City’ format that can be generated, shared and searched by anyone with access to Google Maps on a smartphone. The open source nature of Plus Codes means that applications that use location services can incorporate it on their platforms for free.
To use a Plus Code, one needs to enter it into the Search field on Google or Google Maps, mobile or desktop. Google noted that Plus Codes could be used for a variety of reasons, including communicating the venue of a temporary event, guiding emergency services to afflicted locations, and providing an identifiable location for complicated addresses.
In another step aimed at facilitating accurate and easy searching on Maps, Google also launched ‘Add an Address’ -- a feature that enables users to contribute to the Maps experience from the Google Maps app.
Similar to adding businesses, users can submit new or missing addresses through this feature, and Google will ensure that the address is searchable in due course after verification. Users get Local Guides points for each valid submission.
Missing address feature
Suren noted that understanding addresses, especially in the Indian context, has always been a relentless pursuit for Google. After extensive research, Google is launching 'Smart Address Search' to provide the best estimate of the location of an address. He said,
When people aren’t aware of an exact address, they just don’t give up but try to reference other information such as a nearby landmark, business or a locality to get closer to the final destination. Smart Address Search helps doing exactly that.
If Google Maps doesn’t understand the address precisely, it will try to use all the pieces of information in the address and provide options of landmarks and points of interest that the user can best identify with.
Using smart address search
Suren noted that since the time Google India launched Navigation in Hindi three years ago, they have consistently received requests to be able to change the voice-guided navigation from English to a local language.
Google India is now launching voice navigation in six additional Indian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam.
Indian languages for voice navigation
Website- Plus codes