Many mobile users have come to rely on Google Maps to navigate the world in their daily lives. According to the latest comScore data, it was the seventh-highest-ranked app in the U.S. in March, with 42% reach. To make sure it remains an indispensable tool, Google released an updated version of the app for Android and iOS with a set of new features.
The most notable is the integration of ride-sharing service Uber, which allows users to summon drivers-for-hire through its smartphone app of the same name. Now if you have the Uber app installed on your device in some cities, Google Maps will allow you to compare how long a trip takes by transit and walking directions versus an Uber ride.
If a user decides to go with Uber, it just takes a single click. Lost on no one is the fact that Google Ventures is an investor in San Francisco-based Uber, which has raised a whopping $307.5 million to date. Perhaps it could lead Apple to strike deals with other ride-sharing rivals like Lyft or Sidecar, for integration with Apple Maps.
The new Google Maps adds other enhancements, including filters for narrowing search results by opening hours, price, ratings and other factors. That could prove helpful to local restaurants, hotels and other small businesses in driving more business.
When it comes to travel, the app now allows people to see places they have saved on Google Maps across all devices. People can also save locations they are interested in by tapping on the place card and hitting the star icon. When exploring vacation spots -- from Gateway Arch to the Taj Mahal -- tapping on the place card onscreen connects to Street View where available.
Building on its public transit information in the app, Google has added the ability to specify a departing or arrival time when searching for trains. For drivers, it now shows upcoming lane information when using turn-by-turn directions. Maps can also be stored for offline use.