Google Maps is growing up. I noticed some cool stuff just on Black Friday, but first, let's reflect a little.
Remember when Google Maps, which launched Feb 8th, 2005, appeared on the Internet as a paper atlas? It was simple and didn't require special software. It just worked in the browser.
Who knew that after Feb 8th, 2005:
- The iPhone would help proliferate Google Maps, but then would fall away soon thereafter.
- Google Maps would become the second largest web property - until YouTube.
- Google Maps would eventually have a billion users.
In 2007, Google promised more real-time data for all it's services. It's taken years, it seems, but Google Maps is starting to get more interesting real-time data flowing through it now.
When the real-time updates started in Google Maps, that's when I began to take notice. As a tech guy, I wondered how they accomplished this massive feat of engineering.
Real-time transit appeared in Google Maps, but it was driven by transportation partners sending a GTFS feed.
Then how does Google determine real-time traffic maps? They Crowdsource traffic data from Android users. That's how.
Android phone data, which is sent to the Google mothership, as user history data, is mined for information. Therefore, when you are looking at the Google Maps Traffic layer, and there's green, orange, and red on the map, that's actually the speed of all the android phones going down the road being compared to actual speed limits.
Early on, if the Google Maps traffic layer did not work properly, you could assume there were not enough Android phones in the area. With billions on Android phones sold to date, the only place it might not work today is on 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, CA.
Google has made a business from Google Maps. Aside from API limits, Google provides real-time mapping data to enterprise companies like Lyft.
On Black Friday 2016, while visiting in Colorado Springs, CO, I pulled up Google Maps on my computer and took these screenshots.
Macy's was getting hammered on Black Friday. Either Google decided to make an visual impression with the Google Maps UI and allow the live visitors bar go beyond the container it's in, or they did not consider this UI anomaly.
Live-traffic, now number of live visitors in a business. What's next?