Google Maps adds AR walking directions for malls and airports, 'eco-friendly' routes

The search giant also revamps its Maps app with new grocery pickup options.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

Google unveiled a handful of new Maps features. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Google on Tuesday unveiled a handful of new features for its Maps app, including tools aimed at helping people navigate through malls and airports, as well as letting them choose more environmentally conscious routes when driving. 

The tech giant said it's updating its Live View feature, which uses augmented reality to show people digital arrows overlaid on real-world images on their phones to tell them where to go while on foot. Google debuted the feature two years ago for outdoor routes and on Tuesday expanded it to a few indoor spaces. The company partnered with Westfield malls to bring the tool to shopping centers in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. The feature is also heading to airports in Zurich and Tokyo in the "coming months," the company said.

Google is bringing its Live View to indoor spaces like airports and malls. 


The search giant also said it will show people driving directions that try to reduce carbon emissions, based on factors such as road incline and traffic congestion. Google said it will show people the more eco-friendly directions by default when that has little or no bearing on arrival time. When it would significantly impact the length of the trip, the app will let users choose which route they want to use. 

The announcements come as Google tries to push its Maps app beyond just getting people from one point to another. In the last few years, the company has launched social features including restaurant recommendations, as well as tools to connect people with local businesses like plumbers or yoga instructors. As Google introduces new features, they feed the company's massive data machine, which the company uses to bolster its lucrative personalized advertising business. 

"It's really about how to redefine exactly what a map can be -- what it looks like, the information you find, how you interact with it," Dane Glasgow, vice president of product for Google Maps , said during a press briefing. "The possibilities are really endless."  

Google also added new options for picking up groceries, as app-based delivery and pickup has spiked in popularity during the pandemic. The company said it's partnering with Fred Meyer, a division of the grocery chain Kroger, for a pilot in Portland, Oregon, to streamline grocery pickup. The Maps app will let users receive a notification when it's time to pick up their order, and allow them to check in on the app when they've arrived at the store. 

Google also said it's adding more information about weather and air quality, so people can better plan outdoor gatherings in advance. 

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