If the idea of driving to your next destination fills you with dread, then consider updating your mobile device with the latest version of Google Maps. On November 6, the search engine juggernaut announced the release of its material design update, which is characterized by brightly colored design, information layers, and easy-to-view transit options. This is also Google Maps’ first update to include the integration of two third-party services: Uber and OpenTable.
— Uber (@Uber) November 7, 2014
If you’ve got the Uber app installed on your mobile device already, then you’ll notice a new transit option appear in Google Maps. When you load up a list of bus routes or walk times, you’ll find an Uber selection at the bottom of your screen, displaying the estimated cost of your ride and the total wait time for your pickup. When you tap on this option, the Uber app will launch and automatically pull over your pickup address and destination from Google Maps. This auto-fill can definitely come in handy in bad weather, so you don’t have to fumble with typing out addresses with cold hands. Keep in mind that this rideshare option will not appear in Google Maps if the addresses are in a location that has yet to legalize Uber.
OpenTable has also tweeted in celebration about its Google Maps integration. If you search for an eatery that uses OpenTable reservations, then you’ll notice a convenient new “Find a Table” feature in the restaurant’s info layer in Google Maps. Just scroll through the options to set your desired reservation date, time, and the number of people in your party. Unlike Uber, you won’t be redirected to another app – you can fill out the OpenTable dining reservation form right in Google Maps. This level of integration can make it easier for you to snag seats quickly at a popular restaurant before they’re filled.
The updates to Google Maps’ fluidity and look reflect the company’s focus on material design. This is a new user interface philosophy that emphasizes 3D objects, tactile looks, responsive animation, and greater accessibility. Google has published a multi-page spec about material design. This primer can help curious mobile users and app developers get a better idea of how Google’s future app updates might look like.
The language used in the spec is confident and nearly mesmerizing, with statements like, “The material is grounded in tactile reality, inspired by the study of paper and ink, yet technologically advanced and open to imagination and magic.”
Get a feel for material design, check out the Uber integration, and make quick OpenTable reservations by updating your Google Maps app now. The update is available for both iOS and Android users.