Google may never become the online booking killer that everyone expected it to become, but it can surely be the best travel information utility service on the planet, and it is using Maps to leverage into it.
Even as Apple has been trying to rework its maps efforts — with a radical new redesign for iOS 7 and Hopstop acquisition — Google has been consistently adding features in its Google Maps app after it came back on iOS in December 2012 and quickly surpassed 10 million downloads. Google has since rolled out update after update, like live traffic alerts and transit updates in major cities. It bought traffic navigation app Waze in June.
Now, it is adding four small features to the new beta of Google Maps (launched three months ago) that hints at its strategy in travel, beyond its main search additions:
Directions for multiple destinations: This seems like an obvious feature to have, and after stripping it out initially, it is back. And it is available for driving, walking and biking directions.
Multiple destinations for city attractions: A subset of the above feature, this allows users to add museums, historic squares, and other attractions by dragging and dropping in the order desired, and it adds the Views carousel in the bottom right corner, a way to preview Street View, Photo Tours, and other imagery.
Seeing pre-booked flight, hotel, and restaurant reservations right in Maps: This is potentially the biggest out of the four, and borrowed from Google Search. Users can find their existing flight, hotel, and restaurant reservations right in Maps, using airport codes or names of dining destination, and it’ll instantly show your upcoming plans. This info is only available when a user is signed into Google, and only they can see it for privacy reasons.
This feature is currently rolling out to Maps users in the U.S. and is available in English only.
Search for upcoming events: Adding events info based on venues. For example, search for Radio City Music Hall, the O2 Arena, etc, and clicking on the Upcoming Events card shows a schedule of concerts, sports matches, and other events happening near the users. Or users can start with a more generic search like “music venues.”
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Tags: google, google maps, maps
Photo credit: The new feature in latest update to Google Maps preview version: adding events search.