Google Maps, the online mapping service launched by Google 14 years ago, is continuing its pioneering run in the navigation and mapping market. Three new features have been specially introduced for the Indian market. These include tracking of live bus timings in ten major Indian cities, live train status for Indian Railways and improved mix-mode commute suggestions. And trust me, talk to any Indian today, and the relief that this news brings on their face is equivalent to — if not more — what Thor felt while chopping Thanos’ head off.
India is one of Google’s high potential market with millions of users depending upon Google Maps for their daily commute. And it has proved itself to be preferred choice of Indians over other similar applications. It comes as no surprise that Google included much needed features exclusively for its Indian users.
Google’s new features allows users to check bus travel timings depending upon the live traffic conditions. Google has said that this feature is first of its kind in the world, which makes it kind of a big deal for its users. Traffic being a major issue on Indian roads people using public transport are supposed to get most benefit out of it. According to Google, this feature makes use of Google’s live traffic data and public bus schedules to make predictions about bus timings.
It should be noted however, that this feature is currently available in selected cities, namely, Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chennai, Mysore, Coimbatore, and Surat. Depending upon the response in these cities, Google will make further improvements to this feature to provide more accurate results. To use this feature user has to input the start location and destination, then click on the transit tab. The next window will show a map of the bus route with red showing a bus running late and green showing a bus on time.
Another useful feature that Google has added is live train status. Railways are much preferred daily commute vehicles by millions of Indians and in major metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Bangalore. For most of the Indian public, getting to know these timings can save them valuable time going home or their offices. Google now shows live train timings for a selected route and also tells whether a train will be delayed. The user needs to select the start and destination points and then choose the train from a displayed list to see the timing and delay status of that train.
To include this train tracking feature Google made use of a startup it had recently acquired called ‘Where is my train’. This application was already popular in India with over 10 million registered consumers. One of the reason for popularity of this application is that it works in regions of poor connectivity and also offline. Google might implement these features to its application in order to redirect consumers to Google Maps.
Mixed-mode transport suggestions combining auto-rickshaw and public transport has also been introduced. Previously, the user was provided with walking distance estimate but now they can also get suggestions for auto-rickshaw transport along the selected route combined with public transport. It is assumed that Uber and Ola, which have introduced their auto-rickshaw services will be benefited from this and also the users who will get the best possible route to reach their destination. This feature will not only tell the user about how long it will take to reach their destination but also estimated fares and departure timings. Currently, this feature is only available in two cities, namely, Delhi and Bangalore.