Google has announced that beginning next week, it will start rolling out the “search in Live View” feature that it teased back in September, which uses the existing Live View technology found in Google Maps but makes it more interactive. This feature can help you find what’s around you by simply lifting your phone to search, tapping on the camera icon in the search bar, and being amazed as you watch results come in with nearby stores and other places nearby. These results are also overlaid with AR-powered directions and arrows, so you know which way to go to find them.
The rollout with begin in selected locations such as London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo and will be available on Android and iOS. Live View will also take it a step further by overlaying specifics about the spot you are looking at in the AR view, such as the hours the spot is open, how busy it is, etcetera.
For those of you that drive electric vehicles and are already using Google Maps to find the nearest charging stations, you will be happy to know that Google is introducing a new “fast charge” filter when you search for “EV charging stations.” With this filter on, you’ll see stations equipped with chargers 50kW or higher. You will also be able to filter by plug type as well in more countries so that you can make sure that the charging station has a plug that is compatible with your car. This is live now for Android and iOS devices in regions where electric vehicle charging facilities are readily available.
Lastly, Google Maps is expanding its “Accessible Places” feature, which helps people know when a place is wheelchair accessible and/or stair-free. The feature was originally launched in 2020, but it was limited to just Australia, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. Now, the feature is available worldwide on Android and iOS.
To use this feature, just turn on the “Accessible Places” setting in the Google Maps app. You will see a wheelchair icon on the business profile if it has an entrance that is accessible for those using wheelchairs, and you will see the same icon with a strikethrough if the location is not accessible. You can also check to see if the location offers parking, facilities, and seating that are accessible.
Google says this feature is powered by the information that the local businesses provide to them and contributions made by members of the Google Maps community. If you are a business owner with a brick-and-mortar location, you may want to update your business profile to reflect whether your business is accessibility-friendly.
The helpfulness of this last feature extends to just wheelchair users, as you can potentially use this to avoid stairs because you have a stroller, rolling luggage, or are using a cart. Regardless of the use case, it’s great to see Google Maps adding more features just when you think it can’t possibly get any more helpful. I’m eagerly waiting on the full rollout of “Immersive View,” which will include high-definition street, satellite, and aerial imagery. We already have part of it live with the photorealistic aerial views of several iconic landmarks, but it will be so nice when it becomes more widely accessible.