Google Maps is getting a major update today for its 15th birthday — here's everything that's new

Getty/ Future Publishing / Contributor
  • Google Maps is getting a redesign to coincide with its 15th birthday, the company announced on Thursday.
  • The update brings features that were already available in the app – like the ability to contribute reviews and ratings and save favourite places to lists – front and centre.
  • The redesign highlights how Google Maps has grown into much more than just a navigation app over the last 15 years.
  • Google is also adding a few new additions to Maps later on, such as additional information about public transit routes and a new mode for its Live View augmented reality view.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google Maps is getting an update on Thursday that emphasises the app’s evolution from being just a means of navigation to a hub for learning about nearby points of interest, commuting tips, and more.

Coinciding with Google Maps’ 15th birthday, the search giant is implementing a redesign that focuses on five specific categories: “Explore,” “Commute,” “Saved,” “Contribute,” and “Updates,” essentially highlighting all of the tasks people use Google Maps for besides getting directions.

That’s a noticeable difference from the previous version of the app, which only had tabs for “Explore,” “Commute,” and “For You,” a section that pulls together recommendations for places to visit.

The new look is certainly the biggest change coming to Maps on Thursday, but the company also has a couple of other new features in its pipeline. One such update will be coming to Live View over the coming months, the feature that uses augmented reality to provide turn-by-turn directions over the real world when holding your phone up. Google Maps will also be able to provide more information about public transit starting next month, similar to the feature it added last year that tells you if your train is likely to be crowded at a certain time.

The app icon is also getting a fresh update that looks like a pin, marking a departure from the previous iteration of the logo which more closely resembled a map.

Here’s a closer look at the Maps refresh launching on Thursday and the other features rolling out next month.

First, take a look at Google’s new app icon for Google Maps.

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The new symbol for Google Maps sitting on your smartphone’s home screen looks like a pin, marking a departure from the previous iteration of the logo which more closely resembled a map.

It’s the first time Google has updated the Maps app icon since 2015, when it refreshed the “G” in the icon to match the new Google logo.

The new version of the app displays five categories across the bottom of the screen. The previous version only had three, as shown below.

Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

The features within these tabs aren’t necessarily new, but now they’re front and centre. In the past, you had to dig into Google Maps’ side menu to access some of these features.


Take the “Saved” tab, for example, which provides access to places you’ve favorited or added to another list. You can now access these lists from the tab on the Google Maps home screen, whereas before you had to navigate to the “Your places” section of the menu.


Similarly, if you wanted to add a review of a restaurant or tourist attraction, you had to select the “Your contributions” option from the side menu. Now, there’s a whole tab for this right below the map.


Google is also adding a new capability to Live View over the coming months that allows you to only see the direction in which you need to walk and the distance to your destination rather than a full set of turn-by-turn directions. That addition is geared toward instances in which you want to make sure you’re going in the right direction but don’t necessarily need step-by-step instructions.

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Starting in March, it’s also expanding the types of information it provides about public transportation.

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Similar to the way Google Maps already provides information about how crowded a train may be at a certain time, the app will now also provide crowdsourced answers about the temperature of a given train, public transit lines with accessibility entrances and seating, and trains that have security on board.

Google is also adding some insights specific to certain regions around the world, such as the ability to see how many carriages are available on a specific train in Japan to increase your chances of getting a seat.

Taken together, the changes underscore Google Maps’ goal to become a one-stop shop for browsing new places to visit, booking appointments, and shopping — rather than just for travelling from point A to point B.

YouTube/Google Maps

It’s another reminder that Google Maps can be used to accomplish many of the tasks you may typically delegate to other apps like OpenTable or Yelp – the latter of which has filed antitrust complaints against Google for promoting its own services over others in search. The update also illustrates the broader change at Google in recent years, as it shifts from a company geared toward providing answers to one that helps you get things done.

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