In a press event in New Delhi, India, Google introduced a simplified way to search for addresses on Google Maps. The new open sourced solution, called Plus Codes, represents a simple and consistent addressing system that works across India and globally.
Plus Codes are based on dividing the geographical surface of the Earth into tiny ‘tiled areas’, attributing a unique code to each of them. This code simply comprises a ‘6-character + City’ format that can be generated, shared and searched by anyone using the Google Maps app. Plus codes are free to use, forever.
A plus code is 10 characters long, with a plus sign before the last two, and consists of two parts:
- The first four characters are the area code, describing a region of roughly 100 x 100 kilometers.
- The last six characters are the local code, describing the neighborhood and the building, an area of roughly 14 x 14 meters.
Since Plus Codes is an open source solution, apps that use location services can easily incorporate it into their platforms for free. More details on plus.codes.
At the event, Suren Ruhela, Director of Google Maps Next Billion Users, shared that India offers a unique challenge in navigation since addresses are unique in format, and vary across regions, localities, and use cases. While some addresses are well-defined by street names and house numbers that are easy to find, others can be long-winded and hard to locate.
With the ‘Smart Address Search’ feature, Google Maps will try to use all the pieces of information in the address and provide options of landmarks and points of interest that the user can best identify with. This is similar to real-life interactions where a person isn’t aware of an exact address, but shares other information such as a nearby landmark, business or a locality to get closer to the final destination. Google also introduced an ‘Add an Address’ feature that enables users to submit new or missing addresses (like adding businesses) which will be verified and made searchable in due course by Google. The users, in turn, will get Local Guides points for each valid submission.
Additionally, Google announced the availability of voice navigation in six additional Indian languages – Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam – three years after it introduced the same in Hindi.