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Try these new Google Maps voice commands on your next road trip
September 29, 2016
As we approach the end of the year, many travelers will set out on holiday road trips to visit family and friends, near and far. Whether you’re driving solo, or don’t want to assign navigator duties to your passengers, it just got easier to get around while keeping your eyes on the road with new voice commands that are simpler than ever to use.
For the ultimate hands-free and eyes-free experience, first make sure you’ve got the latest versions of the Google Maps app and Google app for Android. Then, the next time you enter navigation mode or
, you can simply say “Ok Google” followed by a voice command, without needing to tap or even look at the screen. You’ll always know when voice commands can be used in Google Maps by looking for a white microphone icon in the top right corner.
When you say “Ok Google”, the microphone will activate and you’ll see a circle with bouncing dots – indicating that your voice command is being heard. For example, try saying “Ok Google, find gas stations”, and see what happens. You can tap the circle to cancel an ongoing command. If for some reason you want to use a non-hands-free alternative to saying “Ok Google”, tap the microphone and simply say “Find gas stations”.
To make sure you have things set up correctly, tap the overflow menu (the button with three dots), then tap “Settings”, and finally, tap ““Ok Google” detection”. The “While driving” setting allows you to say “Ok Google” during navigation in Google Maps. If you’d like to do this anywhere on your device, you’ll need to enable the “Always on” setting (on some devices, the setting is called “From any screen”). And if for some reason you’d like to turn off “Ok Google” detection entirely throughout your device, you can do so by toggling the settings to the off position.
Once you’re all set up, the possibilities are endless. In addition to tried-and-true voice commands like “What’s my next turn?” and “What’s my ETA?”, you can now do things like “Show / Hide traffic”, “Mute / Unmute voice guidance”, and even “Avoid tolls / highways / ferries”, with just the sound of your voice. If you anticipate traffic, you can say “How’s traffic ahead?” or “Show alternate routes”. And if you want to add a little fun to your drive, you can say “Play some jazz”, “Send a text”, or maybe even “Call mom”. Here’s a
with more of the voice commands you can use in Google Maps. Safe driving, and happy road tripping!
Posted by Raghu Simha, Product Manager, Google Maps
Walk the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine like the pros with Street View
September 27, 2016
Earlier this year, Turner Sports approached us with an idea: Help us change the way golf fans experience the sport’s biggest event of the year, the Ryder Cup. Always up for helping users go where they’ve never gone before, we loaned Turner a
Street View Trekker
. They hit the links to collect hole-by-hole imagery at Minnesota’s Hazeltine National Golf Club, site of this year's tournament starting today through October 2.
Over two days, the team covered the 160-acres course.
Randy Dickerson, of Turner Sports, gets ready for his first trek. Randy and team carried the 40lb camera over the 5+ mile golf course at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Not to be outdone by past Street View collects captured by
, the Trekker hitched a ride on a golf cart.
Explore the images on
, or walk the course like the pros using the
, an interactive tour developed by Turner and Ubilabs. Along with 360-degree views, the site, built with Google Maps APIs, features custom elevation graphs for every hole, integrated video highlights and course-specific historical moments.
Fans attending the event can also make use of the Ryder Cup app’s Wayfinding feature, available on
. Built using Google Maps APIs, the feature includes a detailed view of the course with routing instructions that account for walking paths and crosswalks. The map also displays information about on-course amenities and facilities.
Posted By: Vanessa Schneider, Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach
Always know which way you’re headed with this Google Maps update
September 20, 2016
One of the basic features of the Google Maps app is the ability to open the app and find out which direction you're facing in a matter of seconds. To make orienting yourself even easier in Google Maps for Android, we've replaced the direction arrow on your blue dot with a shining blue beam – think of it as a flashlight guiding your travels.
The beam also tells you how accurate your phone’s direction is at any given time. The narrower the beam, the more accurate the direction. The wider the beam, the more likely it is that your your phone’s compass is temporarily uncalibrated, which means that its sensors aren’t working as they should be. This can happen by doing something as simple as charging your phone or walking by a metal pole, which most of us do everyday. Thankfully, there’s a really easy fix. Any time you want to get back on track – not just when you see a prompt or notification – simply move your phone in a figure 8 motion a few times. This should immediately result in a more accurate direction.
Once you master the curving motion, you’re one step closer to having a more accurate compass when you use Google Maps on your Android phone.
Posted by: Raja Ayyagari, Product Manager, Google Maps
Mapping global fishing activity with machine learning
September 15, 2016
The world’s oceans and fisheries are at a turning point. Over a billion people depend on wild-caught fish for their primary source of protein. Fisheries are intertwined with global food security, slave labor issues, livelihoods, sovereign wealth and biodiversity but our fisheries are being harvested beyond sustainable levels. Fish populations have already plummeted by 90 percent for some species within the last generation, and the human population is only growing larger. One in five fish entering global markets is harvested illegally, or is unreported or unregulated. But amidst all these sobering trends, we're also better equipped to face these challenges — thanks to the rise of technology, increased availability of information, and a growing international desire to create a sustainable future.
Today, in partnership with
, we’re launching
Global Fishing Watch
, a beta technology platform intended to increase awareness of fisheries and influence sustainable policy through transparency. Global Fishing Watch combines cloud computing technology with satellite data to provide the world’s first global view of commercial fishing activities. It gives anyone around the world — citizens, governments, industry, and researchers — a free, simple, online platform to visualize, track, and share information about fishing activity worldwide.
Global Fishing Watch, the first global view of large scale commercial fishing activity over time
At any given time, there are about 200,000 vessels publicly broadcasting their location at sea through the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Their signals are picked up by dozens of satellites and thousands of terrestrial receivers. Global Fishing Watch runs this information — more than 22 million points of information per day — through machine learning classifiers to determine the type of ship (e.g., cargo, tug, sail, fishing), what kind of fishing gear (longline, purse seine, trawl) they’re using and where they’re fishing based on their movement patterns. To do this, our research partners and fishery experts have manually classified thousands of vessel tracks as training data to “teach” our algorithms what fishing looks like. We then apply that learning to the entire dataset — 37 billion points over the last 4.5 years — enabling anyone to see the individual tracks and fishing activity of every vessel along with its name and flag state.
An individual vessel fishing off Madagascar
This data can help inform sustainable policy and identify suspicious behaviors for further investigation. By understanding what areas of the ocean are being heavily fished, agencies and governments can make important decisions about how much fishing should be allowed in any given area. Often, fish populations are so depleted that the only way to ensure they are replenished is to create “no take areas” where fishing is not allowed. Our hope is that this new technology can help governments and other organizations make decisions about which areas need protection and monitor if policies are respected.
Kiribati's Phoenix Island Protected Area transitioning from heavy tuna fishing to a protected area.
Partners have already started using Global Fishing Watch and have committed to providing additional data sources for greater impact:
Indonesia’s Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs
, Susi Pudjiastuti, has committed to making the government’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) public in Global Fishing Watch in 2017. Ibu Susi has been a progressive leader for transparency in fisheries with other governments now expressing similar interest to collaborate.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
will collaborate on new research methodologies for reporting spatial fishery and vessel statistics, building on Global Fishing Watch and developing transparency tools to support their member states in improving the monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities.
, a seafood digital supply chain company, has committed to using Global Fishing Watch to verify catch documentation for its customers such as Whole Foods.
, the largest exporter of snapper from Indonesia, has teamed up with Pelagic Data Systems, manufacturers of cellular and solar powered tracking devices to bring the same transparency for small scale and artisanal fishing vessels, into Global Fishing Watch as part of a pilot program.
We’ve also developed a Global Fishing Watch Research Program with
10 leading institutions
from around the world. By combining Google tools, methodologies, and datasets in a collaborative environment, they’re modeling
economic, environmental, policy
, and climate change implications on fisheries at a scale not otherwise possible.
Global Fishing Watch was not possible five years ago. From a technology perspective, satellites were just beginning to collect vessel positions over the open ocean, and the "global coverage" was spotty. There has been tremendous growth in machine learning with applications in new fields. Policy and regulatory frameworks have evolved, with the United States, European Union, and other nations and Regional Fishery Management Organizations now requiring that vessels broadcast their positions. Market forces and import laws are beginning to demand transparency and traceability, both as a positive differentiator and for risk management. All of these forces interact and shape each other.
Today, Global Fishing Watch is an early preview of what is possible. We’re committed to continuing to build tools, partnerships, and access to information to help restore our abundant ocean for generations to come.
Go explore your ocean at
Posted By: Brian Sullivan, Google Lead -
Global Fishing Watch
, Sr. Program Manager -
Google Ocean & Earth Outreach
Hailing more ride service options in Google Maps
September 8, 2016
Back in March, we
a new way for people to find and compare the fastest ways to get around town by adding a new ride services tab when searching for directions in Google Maps. Today, we’re adding two more partners in the U.S., Lyft and Gett. Now Google Maps will display options from 9 ride-sharing partners in over 60 countries, allowing you to compare the fastest, most affordable ride near you, without having to download and open multiple apps.
Say you’re looking to get from the High Line to Times Square in Manhattan. When typing these locations into the Google Maps app, you’ll see a ride services tab appear alongside driving, transit and walking directions. Just tap the icon and you’ll find fare estimates and pick up times from multiple ride service partners, depending on driver availability. We’ll also show various types of services offered by each partner— for instance Lyft may also show options for a Lyft Line ride.
The ride service tab updates automatically based on driver availability, estimated fare and ETA.
Ride options from Lyft will begin appearing across the U.S., while Gett will show availability within New York City. So the next time you find yourself with an appointment across the city, just open the Google Maps app on iOS or Android and take it for a spin.
By Sara Torti, Senior Product Manager, Google Maps
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