Updates for Google Maps at the #io18

The Google IO 2018 from May 8 to 10 was an exciting time for the entire team @ Searce because what Google announces usually has huge business implications and widens the horizon for what can be done for all our clients. The turnout was great despite of the timing and palpable excitement on all three nights with the floor being converted into a bedroom and a huge screen to catch everything live.

Happy faces watching and tweeting away!

As a Maps consultant I tend to talk and listen more when people are discussing location intelligence. I had quite a few takeaways for you guys interested in the topic or just generally enthusiastic about Maps. Here are all the updates for Google Maps — App announcements & Platform.

For the end consumer:

  1. Maps & Lens: Probably the most shared feature this IO, Aparna Chennapragada presented Walking Navigation and VPS (Visual Positioning System). Session Link
Answer “Where am I going?” and “What’s that in front of me?”

2. For You & Group planning: Session Link — Jen introduced the world to a new Tab “For you” in you Google Maps app, and a score “Your Match” to help you understand your surroundings with ML scoring places according to your preferences and suggesting you and your friends new places to explore. The best part, as a group, you can vote for places and decide where to go for your next outing.

For You, Your Match, Share & Vote

For developers:

The big announcements for developers this year were:

  1. Google Maps Platform Session Link Rose and Mike present the humble beginnings of Google Maps APIs and how it has helped businesses like Cab aggregators (Uber, Lyft), delivery apps, logistics, insurance etc for over 13 years now. Google Maps APIs which is my primary expertise and business vertical at Searce.
Google Maps APIs are now merging with Google Cloud Platform to be know as Google Maps Platform which will have the same 13 APIs (and more to come soon like in app Nav API) categorized as Routes, Maps & Places making it Simplified, Scalable and Easy to Use.

A beautiful and in depth article by my colleague Riya verma on Google Maps Platform can be found here.

2. Accuracy — How to get one-meter location-accuracy from Android devices (Google I/O ’18) Session Link: Frank van Diggelen was the first speaker in this session and mentioned that Indoor location accuracy is improving currently at around 10m accuracy with Wifi signal strength and 5m with GPS (open sky), Wifi Round Trip Time will get it down to 1m.

This is happening as a result of Satellite and receiver Hardware improvements. The key technologies responsible are Wi-Fi Round-Trip-Time, GPS Dual Frequency and Carrier Phase measurement.

In a couple of years this will be a part of the fused location provider but this is the tech you fiddle with to make something unique right now and accelerate the process.

Next, Roy Want described the science behind RTT and gave a quick demo. Since that would be too tedious to write about, you can watch the session link above to understand it, feel free to comment or connect with me if you have any doubts with the science and terms like Wi-Fi Signal Strength Indication (RSSI). The major change in technology is that RTT measures time of flight rather than just signal strength as this will be more directional and accurate with multi-lateration (more than one signal), all of this will come soon enough as a part of the Fused Location.

Finally, Wei Wang talks about the APIs and later Frank takes over to explain 1m accuracy in open sky and technologies like Dual frequency (current GPS signals are determined by L1 measurements, now we also have L5) which gives much faster and accurate results because relative measurement is easier with 2 waves. The requirements — Phone must support GnssMeasurement APIs, permission, GPS on and that is it! You will additional have to switch off duty cycling (this is how your phone uses GPS: on for a while then off to save battery) as this would render the previous cycle’s calculation useless. They also mentioned the importance of User Trust and Battery life trade offs to be taken into consideration

3. Gaming and AR — Rose and Clementine in this super exciting session encapsulated how Gaming and AR are going to receive huge support from Google Maps Platform team for building contextual AR ready games and apps like: Jurassic World Alive, Ghost-busters & Walking dead. Phones are getting faster and gaming worlds more complex, which Google Maps is helping them with in World building and Mission Planning. It is going to integrate with the popular Unity Gaming SDK.

Gaming & AR with Google Maps Platform

What is in it for businesses?

Google Maps is helping local Businesses like your neighborhood restaurant or a key maker near you (I tend to forget keys a lot). They will definitely benefit from the For You tab by making it easier for their end customers find the relevant shops. Which makes Google My Business very important for your Business. Contact us if you need help today!

The sub meter accuracy provides you with amazing possibilities indoors. Grocery stores, malls etc can use these technologies to improve customer experience and saving us the tyranny of having to ask strangers for directions as Frank said it. Driver training organisations can check how good a driver is actually. Sports tracking can be improved, drones can follow you or the defined path more accurately.

If you are a gaming company, you can let Google Maps APIs answer the where!

Irrespective of the industry we can definitely help you leverage location intelligence contact us on googlemaps@searce.com to know more.

PS: Please comment, clap and share as much as you can, feedback and queries are welcome. All pictures are either screenshots of the #io18 event or my own. Cheers!