Google has updated its apps for iOS and Android with a bunch of new features, including Uber integration directly in its collection of options for travel directions. The Uber option will appear when you’re looking up transit or walking directions if you have the Uber app installed on your device in some cities, offering you the estimated time for trips using the car hire service, and launching Uber instantly with a single tap.
This is arguably the most interesting part of the update, since it represents Google essentially blessing one tech-focused transportation startup over all others. Uber is also a Google Ventures portfolio company, so it begs the question of whether or not this is some kind of sweetheart deal, though Google always maintains its venture arm operates independently from the rest of the organization.
There’s more, too – Maps on mobile now shows you upcoming lane information when you’re using turn-by-turn, which is handy when you’re dealing with complicated thoroughfares. These appear as icons just under the green bar at the top of the interface that tells you the route name and next turn information. Offline maps can also now be stored in advance for later use, tied to your Google profile.
There are now also filters for narrowing search results by opening hours, price, ratings and more, to make Google Maps more of a Yelp competitor, so that you don’t have to switch between apps to find something to do or somewhere to eat. Google has also built on its existing strengths with transit directions by adding the ability to specify a departing or arrival time when searching for public transport options.
The Google Maps apps also now recall saved places when you’re signed in, and offer up indoor and special tourist spot Street View imagery for certain locations.
This is a huge update for the company’s mobile apps, but the Uber tie-in is again probably the most interesting. Now we’ll have to watch and see if the company works with any Uber competitors like Hailo and Lyft, or whether this remains an exclusive affair.