Google Maps apps for Android and iOS are getting a new "Explore" button that can be tapped to help users find places to eat, shop, visit and more as they work, travel or relax near home.
The new Explore button feature was announced by Taj Campbell, Google Maps product manager, in a July 23 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.
"On vacation and want to know where the locals go? Looking for a new place to grab food on your lunch break? Waiting on the platform for your next train and wondering when it's scheduled to arrive? Starting this week, you can spend less time searching for your answer and more time exploring the world with the Google Maps app for Android and iOS," wrote Campbell.
"Now, whenever you want to discover places in your area, simply tap the new Explore button at the bottom right corner of your map to get a quick look at what's nearby (where available)," he wrote. "With Explore as your guide, you'll see different places and activities that adapt to each area and moment throughout your day. This also works when you're browsing other neighborhoods and cities on the map so you can plan your day's outing or daydream about your next vacation."
The new feature is available for the Google Maps apps so far in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.
"The results you get in Explore not only tell you what's nearby—and you can decide if 'nearby' means a five-minute walk or a 20-minute drive—but they actually change based on context like the time of day and the weather, too," wrote Campbell.
Users will get their best results with the new feature when they are signed in with location reporting and history turned on in the apps and on their mobile devices.
"Once you've arrived at your destination, you can get even more relevant information," he wrote. "If you're using an Android device, tap on the My Location button at the bottom right or on the blue dot on the map, and you can quickly access more info about your location such as restaurant reviews and transit schedules, or simply save the place for later. Over time, your location experience will improve as you confirm the places you visit."
Google is always adding new features and services to its Google Maps mobile apps.
Earlier this week, Google announced that Google Maps is now available with automatic Hindi translations, as the company continues to tailor and customize its products to make them even more useful to people in other languages. The Hindi translations were launched to provide more useful and comprehensive maps for Hindi-speakers in India, according to Google.
Users can see the Hindi maps on desktop machines or on Google Maps for Android on devices running Android versions 4.3 and above. Computer users must enable Hindi as their preferred language in their Google account settings to use the Hindi labels in Google Maps.
In May, Google added new capabilities and features, including business filters so users can find just the right nearby business that can provide the products or services that they need, to its Google Maps apps for Android and iOS, according to a recent eWEEK report. Also included were new navigation features that showed users which lane to stay in or move to so they can find their destinations more easily. The upgraded offline Maps capabilities also gave users the ability to find and save maps offline before they leave on their trips so they can use them when WiFi or cellular signal access is a problem.
Also in May, Google announced that it is working with first responders and municipal officials around the world to help them be better prepared for natural disasters and other emergencies by using map visualizations to track problems and plan recovery scenarios using Google Maps. The idea is that Google Maps can be used for emergency planning, preparedness and recovery, according to Google.
In March 2014, Google added a one-stop source for maps with its new Google Maps Gallery, where everything, from historical maps to maps of school districts and more, is being assembled to help users find just the information they are seeking. The Maps Gallery is like an interactive, digital atlas, giving users the ability to explore historic city plans, climate trends, housing affordability, shipwrecks and up-to-date evacuation routes.
The range of available maps through the gallery so far includes maps from the National Geographic Society, World Bank Group, United States Geological Survey, Florida Emergency Management and the City of Edmonton.