Google Maps update coming to New Zealand will make cycling and meeting friends easier

Google Maps update coming to New Zealand
The roll-out comes just weeks after Apple made big changes to its Maps app in NZ. Photo credit: Getty Images

Just weeks after Apple announced major updates to its Maps app in Aotearoa, competitor Google Maps has unveiled new features for Kiwis.

Apple's all-new map, which included more accurate navigation across New Zealand as well as speed limits, went live at the beginning of July.

Meanwhile Google has revealed three new features it hopes will help Kiwis better coordinate plans with friends as well as helping to identify cycling opportunities.

"As we look ahead to spring, Google's latest features will be especially helpful in making it easier for us to explore and cycle the city," it said.

According to Google, the new features include aerial views of 100 iconic landmarks, including the Maungawhau crater, more detailed cycling route information and updates to location sharing - all of which are designed to help people be more prepared.

In a blogpost Amanda Leicht Moore, director of product at Google Maps, wrote that the photorealistic aerial views were the "first step towards launching an immersive view, an experience that pairs AI with billions of high definition Street View, satellite and aerial imagery".

"Say you're planning a trip to New York. With this update, you can get a sense for what the Empire State Building is like up close so you can decide whether or not you want to add it to your trip itinerary," Moore wrote.

The new cycling route information builds on 12 years of providing cycling directions, Google said. The update allows cyclists to compare bike routes and see even more granular data to prepare for the ride.

"In addition to seeing the elevation along your route, you'll also know if you'll encounter heavy car traffic, stairs or steep hills. You'll also be able to get a highly detailed breakdown of the route itself so you can know at a glance what type of road you'll be biking on," Moore wrote.

The new location sharing notification system has been designed with privacy in mind, Google said, meaning the user is always in control of who gets to see that information.

"You can see when a loved one has arrived or left a place so you can more easily coordinate schedules and have peace of mind," Moore wrote.

"Say you're headed to a concert with a group of friends. If they've already chosen to share their location with you, you can set a notification for the concert venue's address so you can see when they've arrived and meet up quickly.

"You could also set a notification to see when they've left the venue - just in case you get split up."

Aerial views of landmarks and location sharing notifications are rolling out now globally on Google Maps on Android, iOS and desktop. Cycling route information is launching in the coming weeks, the company said.