Google Maps turns 15

By Chaim Gartenberg for The Verge

Google Maps is turning 15 years old, and to celebrate, Google is rolling out a new icon for the service along with a slightly redesigned app and a couple of new features.

The biggest change here might be the icon itself — gone is the classic map intersection icon in favor of a new Google-hued pin on a white background, which more closely matches Google’s other application branding.

The Google Maps app itself is also getting a slight change, with two added tabs at the bottom: the update adds “contribute” and “updates” tabs, and replaces the “for you” tab with a more focused “saved” tab.

The motivation behind the redesign is rooted in the more recent functionality that Google has added to Maps, like the increased focus on user-submitted content and the ability to follow other users. With the new tabs, more of those features are put front and centre for users instead of having them buried deep in a side menu.

The five main tabs on the new Google Maps
Google is also announcing a couple new features to Maps, although they won’t arrive until sometime in March. The first is increased crowdsourced information for public transit. Before, Google Maps could only tell you whether a train or bus was expected to be crowded, but the new update allows users to submit other details like temperature, wheelchair accessibility, or whether there’s a women-only carriage or onboard security.

The other update is coming to Google’s augmented-reality Live View feature, which is getting a more lightweight mode that will simply show the location of your destination without launching into the full-fledged 3D turn-by-turn navigation mode that’s currently available.

The new icon and tab interface will roll out today on both iOS and Android devices; the new transit information and Live View mode will arrive in a future update sometime next month.

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