Google Maps will be turning 15 on February 8 and to celebrate it Google has announced a major redesign of the app on both Android and iPhones which is rolling out as we write. The new redesign brings a new icon along with a slightly redesigned overall app experience. Google also announced a couple of new features for the service but we'll have to wait till March for them.
Redesigned Google Maps icon
The biggest change the new update brings is the app icon itself which now trades the map intersection icon with the trademark Google Maps pin in favor of a new Google-colored pin with just plain white background. The new icon looks more modern and minimalist and is more in tune with Google's Material design philosophy.
New Contribute and Updates tabs
The redesign also makes the app easier to use and you won't be doing a lot of digging to find some of the options as they are now easily accessible from the home screen.
The update adds two new buttons at the bottom app interface. The "Contribute" and "Updates" tabs will now be seen in addition to the Commute and Explore buttons. The "For you" tab is now replaced by a "Saved" tab.
The redesign is quite a subtle one but one that is quite functional and the idea behind it could be the recent functionality that Google has added to its Maps such as increased focus on user-submitted content and its ability to act more like a social network with the ability to follow other users. The new tabs also seem to be focused on these aspects of the app.
Upcoming features in March
Google Maps will be getting a couple of new features some time in March. The first feature will allow you to see increased information for public transit such as you'll be able to see the temperature, wheelchair accessibility, or whether or not there is a dedicated seating area or a women's section, or on-board security in the mode of transit. The information is crowdsourced and is provided by users who are already on the train or bus that you're about to hop in.
Google Maps was earlier only able to tell you whether a train or bus was expected to be crowded. So, the additional information will surely be appreciated by many.
Secondly, Google Maps will be expanding its "Live View" augmented reality feature which will be getting a new lightweight mode that will simply show the location of your destination without launching the full 3D turn-by-turn navigation mode. The full-fledged Live View mode that's currently available overlays digital guides like big arrows showing you where to walk on top of the real world images that are shown through your phone camera.
The redesign is rolling out right now for both Android smartphones and iPhones, so check if there's an update available. The other features will land next month.