ZD Tech: Google Maps wants to probe the soul of our cities!

Hello everyone and welcome to ZDTech, ZDNet’s daily editorial podcast. I’m Pierre and today I’m going to explain to you why Google Maps intends to go from being a pocket GPS to that of a real travel guide, aiming for nothing less than giving you an idea of ​​the atmosphere of each neighborhood visited.

It’s a fact, for 17 years that it exists, the mapping application Google Maps is sitting on a gold mine. Every day, millions of people use Google’s pocket GPS to find their way, of course, but also to give their opinion on the places they have visited. They publish photos, leave comments and answer questions from other users. This incredible mass of data, Google intends to exploit it as part of its new “Neighborhood vibe” feature – to be translated into Ambiance du quartier in the language of Molière – which will be deployed worldwide on Android and iOS in the months to come.

With this application, Google could highlight popular and trendy places around you, whether it’s a cafe, a bar or a cultural center. The objective, for Google, is ambitious: it is a question of transcribing the soul of a district as closely as possible to users, to move from a standardized recommendation to advice updated by the users themselves in order to get as close as possible to the ground truth. For Chris Phillips, head of Google, the feature will “quickly identify what is interesting in an area”.

All-round development

If Google will initially rely on user comments to ensure that the service offers quality results, the American giant subsequently wishes to replace these human recommendations with an algorithm. A risky bet that Google justifies by its desire “to adapt and develop the product to help users explore the world and move around better”.

As proof of its good faith, the American giant recalls that its technology participates in major contemporary battles, such as the fight against global warming. For the past few months, Google Maps has been offering “ecological itineraries” allowing in particular to save fuel during motorized travel. For the American giant, this feature, which offers drivers the most virtuous routes in terms of carbon emissions, has since its launch saved no less than half a million tonnes of carbon emissions, i. equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road.

Finally, remember that Google is not at its first attempt in this area. At the beginning of the year, the American giant extended this functionality to its Google Flights service, to allow its users to know the expected carbon emissions of a plane trip. So many attempts which are of course worth what they are worth in the context of the fight against global warming, but which allow Google to further strengthen the influence of its services and applications in our daily lives.

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