All Google Maps Rivals Are in Big Trouble if Google Launches This Feature

Technology is now playing an integral role in the driving experience, and the merger that's happening as we speak is just living proof in this regard.
Realistic route preview coming to Google Maps 9 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/USPTO
Google Maps on CarPlayGoogle Maps on CarPlayGoogle Maps on CarPlayGoogle Maps on CarPlayGoogle Maps on CarPlayGoogle Maps on CarPlayGoogle Maps on CarPlayGoogle Maps on CarPlay
Tech companies such as Apple are working around the clock on expanding in the automotive world, so sooner or later, they would become direct rivals for traditional carmakers.

As such, the investments in technology make perfect sense in the long term. Google isn't planning a full vehicle (or at least, not right now), so the company wants to conquer the automotive business with software and services.

Android Auto and Android Automotive are two of its flagship products on this front. Google Maps, currently the world's number one mobile navigation app, is also spearheading Google's expansion in the car industry.

In addition to providing users with essential navigation needs, Google Maps is at the forefront of the tech revolution. The immersive view that Google announced not a long time ago allows users to explore a specific place using realistic data related to weather, traffic conditions, and everything else from the comfort of their living room.

Now Google might be planning a new big update for Google Maps, and it could be related to the immersive view and the Street View imagery already available in the app.

Google Maps on CarPlay
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Described in a patent called "navigation directions preview" (and also embedded after the jump), Google's new idea comes down to giving drivers a chance to become familiar with the route they are about to start. As you probably know already if you've used Google Maps at least once, the application does offer a basic route preview option. However, it only shows a summary of the route.

Google wants to push the whole thing to the next level. The company plans to overhaul the route preview option with panoramic street-level imagery, essentially allowing the driver to explore every section of the trip before starting the journey.

The preview can include panoramic images for a more realistic experience thanks to Street View data. Drivers can therefore see the route in 3D, just like they would already be on the road. As such, getting more familiar with the route is much more straightforward, as they can observe landmarks, buildings, and other details that would make the route guidance more effective.

The immersive view could eventually come into play as well, offering realistic previews of the suggested route using more data, including weather conditions and traffic conditions at the time of the trip. Google is already exploring an immersive view expansion in this direction, and the patent confirms the company is very committed to this idea.

The patent reveals that the route preview screen would also include audio instructions to understand every turn in a more straightforward manner. Google says users would be provided with additional information on each turn, including details that wouldn't be available when the navigation is enabled.

As such, you could hear something like, "turn right after the bank and then go straight until you see the park entrance." Such voice navigation isn't available in Google Maps, and the patent suggests the search giant wants to stick with essential instructions when turn-by-turn guidance is enabled. The reason is as simple as it could be: speaking more words could be distracting, eventually making the navigation experience more cluttered.

Google Maps on CarPlay
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Google wants to make the route preview option as detailed as possible in order to give drivers enough information to get familiar with the road. It's not hard to figure out when and why this idea would come in handy. If you leave on a road trip, for instance, chances are you're not familiar with every road. With Google Maps, you can explore it in advance and be sure you won't end up on an unpaved road in the middle of nowhere.

This massive update would give Google Maps a significant lead in the navigation space, especially because it would bring together resources that other competitors don't have. Apple also offers street-level imagery (Apple's Street View alternative is called Look Around), but the iPhone maker seems to be more focused on the 3D navigation component. The detailed city experience, currently rolling out across the world at a painfully slow pace, includes 3D models, eventually revamping the navigation experience as well. The 3D navigation is available both on mobile and on CarPlay, though the bigger shortcoming is that Apple Maps continues to be an iPhone-exclusive service.

As usual, a patent isn't by any means the confirmation that a company is planning the global rollout of a new feature. However, in Google's case, the new route preview option would make perfect sense, especially because the realistic experience is already on the table in the short term. Panoramic imagery is something the company has become very interested in, so sooner or later, Google will certainly find a new way to put it to good use.
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 Download: Navigation directions preview patent (PDF)

About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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