All posts in “Google-Maps”

Meituan, Alibaba, and the new landscape of ride-hailing in China

Instead of switching between apps to secure a ride during rush hour, people in China can now hail from different companies using a single app. Some of the country’s largest internet companies — including ride-hailing giant Didi itself — are placing bets on this type of aggregation service.

The nascent model is reminiscent of a feature Google Maps added in early 2017 allowing users to hail Uber, Lyft, Gett and Hailo straight from its navigation app. A few months later, AutoNavi, a maps app owned by Alibaba, debuted a similar feature in China. Other big names like Baidu, Hellobike, Meituan and Didi subsequently joined forces with third-party ride-booking services rather than building their own.

The trend underscores changes in China’s massive ride-hailing industry of 330 million users (in Chinese). The government is tightening rules around vehicle and driver accreditation, leading to a widescale driver shortage. Meanwhile, established carmakers including BMW and state-owned Shouqi are entering the fray, offering premium rides with better-trained fleet drivers, but they face an uphill battle with Didi, which gobbled up Uber China in 2016.

By corraling various ride-booking services, an aggregator can shorten wait time for users. For new ride-hailing players, riding on a billion-user platform like Meituan opens up wider user acquisition channels.

These ride-hailing marketplaces let users request rides from any number of third-party services available. At the end of the trip, users pay directly through the aggregator, which normally takes a commission of about 10%, although none of the players have disclosed how revenue is exactly divided with their mobility partners.

In comparison, a ride-hailing operator such as Didi charges about 20% from each trip since they take care of driver management, customer support and other dirty work which, to a great extent, helps build the moat around their business.

Here’s a look at who the aggregators are.

Google Maps can now predict how crowded your train will be

You know it’s going to be crowded on the bus to work, but now Google Maps can give you a heads up on just how bad it’ll be.

Similar to when crowded restaurant and store predictions rolled out in 2017, Google Maps took user data on past rides to map out when certain train, bus, and subway lines are the most crowded. Now you’ll see on your transit directions just how packed of a ride to expect. 

Google first tested the feature in Sydney in October. Starting Thursday, it will be available to iOS and Android users in 200 cities around the world. Those include 46 metro areas in the U.S., including Los Angeles, New York, Portland, and the Bay Area. 

Sorry, standing room only.

Sorry, standing room only.

Image: Google

Since October, Google Maps has been analyzing reports from Google Maps users during the 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. commute time. It found the most crowded transit lines are in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Paris, Tokyo, and New York’s L train. 

Also Thursday, Google Maps rolled out real-time delays and arrivals for public buses for those 200 same cities. 

When the bus schedule doesn’t match what’s happening in real-time, Google Maps will show exact arrival times at the bus stop. The transit view will also show problem points ahead where the bus is likely to hit more delays.

Isn’t commuting fun? 

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f91599%252f08703fc8 0e22 41a9 9995 ced44fdb1c91.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=4sqex rbrhosx8ikqzhjszeiqaw=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Google’s natural disaster alerts will soon come with more visual detail

Google’s SOS alerts are a handy tool to keep people informed in times of crisis, and now they’ll come with even more detail.

In the next few weeks, Google will begin to present more visual information for natural disasters, plus introduce a new navigation warning system.

For hurricanes, Google Maps will display a forecast cone which will show the hurricane’s projected trajectory, with information on the times it’s expected to hit certain areas.

If you’re near the hurricane, a crisis notification card will alert you of the information in the days leading up to it.

In the aftermath of an earthquake, a shakemap will display its epicenter and its magnitude, while color coding will detail the intensity of the shaking in surrounding areas.

Google is also rolling out flood forecasting, which will be first tested in the flood-prone city of Patna in India, before arriving in the Ganges and Brahmaputra regions. It’ll tell users where flooding is expected to hit, as well as its expected severity.

You don’t need to be near these locations to see all this. Simply using Google to search the name of the area where the natural disaster will or has affected will give you that visual information.

Another neat feature is crisis alerts during navigation on Google Maps, which will warn people if a natural disaster may affect their trip, and it’ll try and navigate them away from the disruption.

Google Maps' new navigation warning system.

Google Maps’ new navigation warning system.

Image: google

As before, you can share this crisis information with friends and family, share your location, and also see and report road closures. Nice one.

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f91599%252f08703fc8 0e22 41a9 9995 ced44fdb1c91.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=4sqex rbrhosx8ikqzhjszeiqaw=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Google Assistant gets NYC subway arrival times ahead of MTA Google Pay support

Next week, New York City’s Metro Transit Authority will be adding contactless payment support for Google Pay. In the meantime, Google’s getting ready by bringing a key new commuting feature to Android.

Starting today, NYC straphangers can use Google Assistant to find out the ETA of the next train. Saying, “Hey Google, when is the next 4 train arriving?” or “Hey Google, when is the next train?” Will pop up its estimated arrival in each direction, along with walking directions to the closet station. Something I could have used this morning, after narrowly missing the R train.

If you’re located in the New York City area, odds are you’ve already seen the contactless payments pop up in a handful of locations along the 4,5,6 line. Next week, those commuting between Grand Central in Manhattan and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be able to swipe their phone as part of a public pilot.

For now, at least, it seems the future is limited to single ride payment (versus daily/weekly/monthly cards), as the MTA works on hammering out the finer details. Stations that accept Google Pay will be added to Maps in coming weeks. Android users will also be able to add in a credit or debit card via the app. That feature is also arriving for riders in Melbourne and London.

Google Maps AR directions won’t come with that cute fox after all

Say farewell to the fox.
Say farewell to the fox.

Image: SCREENSHOT: CASSIDY MILLER/GOOGLE

Mr. Fox was apparently not fantastic enough.

Google Maps began rolling out Augmented Reality directions on Pixel Phones this week. This was a feature it promised at last year’s I/O developer conference, and one that Mashable got to try out this February. 

The feature is pretty nifty: When you’re unsure about your next move, you can hold your camera up to the street and your surroundings, and Google Maps will be able to provide you with a range of helpful specifics, like how many feet there are to your next destination, or whether to walk forward or back, or turn left or right.

Very useful, TBH.

Very useful, TBH.

Image: SCREENSHOT: CASSIDY MILLER/GOOGLE

However, there’s one cute, furry difference between what Google teased last year and what’s showing up in the actual AR features: a fox. 

At the 2018 demo, blue arrows directed Google Maps users where they wanted to go. The arrows had help from a lil’ animated AR fox that ran along your path just in front of you. According to CNET, the actual AR feature won’t feature the fox.

Awww.

Off you hop, little buddy!

Off you hop, little buddy!

Image: SCREENSHOT: CASSIDY MILLER/GOOGLE

That’s because the product designers found that the fox wasn’t exactly useful. People who tested the product apparently reported that they were expecting more use from the fox — for example, to show them fun things. Its capacity as merely a map guide was a letdown.

It seems that the fox was detracting from another thing, too: our collective attention. Google actively encourages people to make limited use of the AR feature, prompting them with a message to put the phone down and focus on their surroundings in the real world. Maybe the fox was just too darn cute. 

This might be a happy call for navigators and explorers, but it’s certainly a sad day for fox lovers.

Cms%252f2018%252f3%252f323afde8 2e96 f309%252fthumb%252f00001.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=mhztzmkovapbfo2vkfwulgyytpe=&source=https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable