Google Maps turns 15

On Google Maps’ 15th anniversary, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai underscores the importance of machine learning, while downplaying Google’s dominance in advertising

The future of Google Maps is one in which algorithms are drawing buildings, AR is helping you decide what to eat, and Google Maps technology exists more broadly outside of the actual Google Maps app. That’s all according to Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. In an interview with WIRED on Wednesday, Pichai said that Maps in particular has been a fertile testing ground for the “AI-first” approach he started pushing for when he became CEO of Google in 2015.

Pichai’s statements come just as Google Maps is celebrating its 15th birthday—the service launched on February 8, 2005. To coincide with the anniversary, Google is releasing a global update to the Maps app. It’s not a dramatic redesign, but it moves some of the more hidden features of the apps, like a Contributions tab and an Updates tab, into the main page of Maps. It also makes one of the app’s newer augmented-reality features more readily available.

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