Google started pushing out a new update for Maps that ennobles the app with more variants of its contextual bottom bar and integrates Street View thumbnails into the Directions section of the popular navigation tool. While the company's app received a minor client update through the Google Play Store on Thursday, the aforementioned additions only started appearing to users today, indicating that the Mountain View-based tech giant distributed the new functionalities through a server-side switch. According to recent reports, the features still aren't available worldwide, but the sheer number of people who can already access them indicates that the Alphabet-owned firm is currently in the process of conducting a staged rollout that will likely be completed by the end of the week.
While Maps had a contextual bottom bar for some time now, this element is now available in much more sections of the app and provides users with a wider variety of options. The bottom bar effectively serves as an alternative to the app's Floating Action Button (FAB) and while regular Maps users won't find the new feature as convenient as the older one, the toolbar is more accessible and presumably designed for people who aren't completely familiar with Maps. The second addition to the app is more universally useful seeing how Google added Street View thumbnails to the Directions tab of its tool at almost no expense. The thumbnails are now located to the right of textual directions and occupate approximately one-fifth of each direction card by length, thus leaving slightly less space for textual directions per line. So, while textual navigation instructions are somewhat more compressed as a result of this change, the actual Directions section is much more useful seeing how users are now able to see the location of each individual milestone on their route. The images themselves are seemingly always oriented in the direction from which users are approaching, and tapping their thumbnails will launch the app's integrated Street View viewer within individual cards without affecting the active route navigation feature.
Seeing how the Maps app is one of Google's flagship products, the popular mobile tool will likely be updated with more useful additions in the near future, and an update on its upcoming functionalities should follow shortly. In the meantime, refer to the gallery below to see how the app's new features look in practice.