Google has announced the launch of indoor maps service in India with 75 buildings in Bangalore, Bhopal, Chennai, Coimbatore, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Goa, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Moradabad, Mumbai, Noida, Pune, Raipur and Vadodara. The buildings mapped include malls, museums, convention halls and retail outlets. Internationally the service works in over 10,000 buildings in 19 countries as of now including India.
How to use it
To view indoor map of a building, you need to zoom in to it with map view while using Google Maps on desktop or or mobile.
Alternatively, you can search for the shop and Google Maps will show you its location and the appropriate floor when you zoom in. You can also view shops on other floors by tapping on the numbers in the bottom right of the screen. This service can be really handy when you’re in a big mall are don’t want to go through all the levels in each floor to get to the shop you were looking for.
In some locations, you’ll have the option to use the indoor My Location feature and navigate your way inside. Where available, a ‘blue dot’ icon will show your approximate location within the building. So when you move up or down a floor, the map will automatically update and show all the shops in that floor. At these locations, you can also access indoor walking directions to help you get to where you need to go more quickly.
The biggest disappointment with indoor maps is that it does not include the parking areas in malls, especially since people tend to get lost trying to figure out where they parked the car; you know what I’m talking about. Oh, but it does indicate where the washrooms are using gender specific icons, so you won’t get arrested for trying something silly.
Adding your building
The company has invited public building owners to add their own floor maps to the service over here. Do note that Google explicitly advises against uploading floor maps of residences, secured buildings and national defense or government security related buildings. To upload, you need to search for the building , then upload the plan for each floor (as jpg, bmp, png, pdf or gif) separately, after which you will be told to align it to fit the building proportions. If the building is owned by an organisation that has more than five floor maps to upload, you can contact Google for help over here.
Google had rolled out street view or panoramic view inside buildings across India in September last year, but it’s not clear if it plans to merge that view with indoor maps any time soon. While indoor maps might help one understand which part of the mall a shop is in, there’s nothing like the seeing the real shop to help spot it faster.
Competition: Nokia had announced a similar feature in June last year, with indoor maps for buildings in 20 cities. It had plans to extend the service to airports, but it’s not clear if it has been done yet. Besides this, Bing Maps also offers Venue Maps and claims to offer 4,700 venue maps in more than 59 countries including three Indian airports and 121 malls in India. Bing Maps is powered by Nokia’s HERE, but indoor mapping seems to be handled separately.