November 30, 2011
Instead of the comforting red YOU ARE HERE dot that lost customers wearily seek out while wandering the halls of shopping malls and airports, soon they’ll just have to look to their palm for a little blue dot. Yesterday, Google released an update to their oh-so-useful Maps application, adding in interior maps of the gigantor buildings we find ourselves lost in so frequently. Now if you get turned around looking for Gate B34 during your frantic 4.5 minute layover, you can fire up the app and locate not just the gate but yourself, allowing you to sprint left at the Cinnabon and jump aboard — or, alternatively, realize there are three terminals between you and your flight, save yourself the heartache and wrecked knees, and go directly to an agent to change your flight.
The interior maps label stores and geographical features, identify your position to within a few meters (continuously updating as you walk) and, perhaps most impressive, change the floor plan automatically as you change floor levels.
The roll-out of the update is modest so far. It’s only for Android right now (v. 6.0), and only includes a handful of airports (ATL, ORD, SFO) and stores (Mall of America, IKEA, Macy’s, etc). The only way to know if an interior layout is available, aside from the few listed on Google’s blog, is to search the app and look for detail. (We looked for airports near the A&S office, but DCA, BWI and IAD aren’t available yet.) Businesses can go directly to Google and upload their floor plans to the app.
The kind of real-time location information that Google offers with Maps is possibly one of the best arguments for owning a smartphone, and this addition of interior floor plans just seals the deal. Especially when you get that Five Guys craving 10 minutes before boarding.
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