Google Maps will soon be helping people to be a lot more eco-friendly in the future.

google maps getty
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Google Maps’ Vice President of Product Dane Glasgow announced on 30 March 2021 that the app will be getting an update that will add eco-friendly features as part of the company’s efforts to help one billion people who use its products take action to reduce their environmental footprint.

Glasgow mentioned that these updates are AI-powered, meaning that you’ll be getting the latest and most accurate information exactly when you need it. These improvements and updates will be helpful for all users, especially Singaporeans, as Google found that there was a 40% increase in usage of local features on Google Maps from before the pandemic. These frequently used features include Lists, the Explore Tab, and Community Feed.

The “green” updates will come to Android and iOS devices earlier to western countries such as the United States, the Netherlands, France and Spain while a global release is expected to come later in 2021.

Credit: Google

One of Google Maps’ new features is the app’s capability of selecting eco-friendly routes. This feature will automatically give you directions to routes with the lowest carbon emissions footprint if it has roughly the same estimated time of arrival (ETA) as the fastest route. This feature will help drivers reduce their emissions and keep the air clean. This feature is also added due to certain cities like Amsterdam and Jakarta designating low emission zones – areas that restrict access to polluting vehicles like certain diesel cars or cars with specific emissions stickers.

Drivers will also be able to choose between an eco-friendly route and the fastest route beforehand; if you want to always have the fastest route instead, you’ll only need to tweak the app’s settings to your preferences.

Singaporeans will be able to receive this feature later in 2021.

Credit: Google

Another eco-friendly feature Google adds is a new directions interface that gives you an easier time choosing more sustainable options on the go. According to Google, you’ll be able to compare every mode of transportation’s ETA without toggling between tabs.

The app’s advanced machine learning models will automatically prioritise your preferred modes and boost modes that are popular in your area of residence. For instance, if you’re living somewhere where bikes are the most popular mode of transportation, then Google Maps will automatically show you more of your area’s biking routes. This particular feature will be added to the app in the coming months on both Andriod and iOS devices.

Aside from eco-friendly features, Google Maps will also allow you to easily navigate buildings when in-doors using augmented reality. Google Maps’ Indoor Live View helps you navigate airports, transit stations and malls on the fly so that you won’t get lost in similar locations. Similarly, the app’s new feature will also help you choose the fastest route inside a building to a specified location. This feature is now live on Android and iOS devices in some malls in the United States. The feature will also come to select airports, malls and transit stations in Tokyo, Zurich, and other cities.

google maps covid vaccination centre
Credit: Google

Finally, one of Google Map’s new features will display a list of COVID-19 vaccination centres in Singapore when a user has searched for “COVID vaccine centres near me” and how to get there. The list will also include a callout on instructions for appointments.

Google has noted that Singapore is the first country in the Asia pacific region and the third country globally to go live with vaccine locations. Google is closely working with Singapore’s Ministry of Health to update the list of COVID-19 vaccination centres as they go live; currently, there are 31 vaccination centres displayed in the apps.


Written by John Paul Joaquin