December 16, 2009

"Turn right after the petrol pump" - Landmarks in driving directions!

Ask for directions in India, and you'll notice most people tend to prefer landmarks over road names. These could be as simple as the "coffee shop past the third traffic signal" or a "petrol pump just past the Gateway of India".

We launched driving directions for India in April this year. Today we are taking this a step further with the launch of landmarks in driving directions.

This effort was possible thanks to the large amount of landmark data that users like you contributed through Google Map Maker. Our new algorithm determines from available signals, which of these landmarks are most useful for navigation, based on importance and closeness to the turns that you're making. We now combine landmark data, counted turns ("the 2nd right"), intersection names, and road names, and try to use whatever information is most relevant and useful for the direction you're heading in.

On the desktop, we're using landmarks in two ways - to identify where users need to turn, and to provide confirmation that they're on the right track. We have also included n
avigational landmarks on your mobile phone with Google Maps for Mobile.

We encourage you to help us improve the landmark data by sharing your local knowledge on Google Map Maker as we strive to build the best navigation mechanism for users in India.

Just to give you an idea of what's new, the following screenshot helps you compare the before and after results for directions from IIM Bangalore to Bangalore City Railway Station

Happy way-finding!

Posted by Sree Unnikrishnan, Sr. User Experience Designer and Manik Gupta, Product Manager, on behalf of a cross-functional and global Geo team