This is just the start of beefing up Maps’ ability to predict traffic levels – I expect Google will be collecting much more information about public transportation, and use that data to power its AI. In the future I could see Google Home offering route planning comparisons between an Uber or train: including informed predictions about how long each will take, how crowded the train will be, etc.
It’s a nice commentary about the business and consumer sides of Google Maps. On the personal/consumer side, Google is adding more advertisements when people search for an address – for example, asking if you want delivery via DoorDash if you search for a restaurant. There are also “promoted pins” which are map pins that appear showing an advertiser’s location, even if the advertiser isn’t relevant to the search. On the business side, Google recently increased the cost of using Google Maps embedded into a website/app/mobile app.
I predict we’ll see more ads and more monetization of the Maps service. Google needs to diversify its revenue – most of it currently comes from ads – and Maps is a great source of data. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Google expanding the Google Local service, encouraging more business reviews from customers so they have more local data to display along with Maps.
For those of you who need a little help with Google Maps, Google offers a screen with all the keyboard shortcuts available in Maps. Just open up Maps, click anywhere in the map area, then hold down the [Shift] and [?] keys – you’ll get the screen below: