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Meet the product lead behind the new commute tab on Google Maps

Googler

Screenshot 2018-10-15 at 12.24.10 PM.pngCaption: An image of a phone of a blue background that shows the commute tab on Google Maps showing delays on a route to work.

Last week, we announced the commute tab on Google Maps—a new feature that helps you avoid the stress of daily travel. With just a tap, you can see live traffic and transit information tailored to your commute. We’ll tell you when to leave and recommend alternative routes if there’s bad traffic or delays. Public transit riders in 80 cities worldwide will also be able to see exactly where their bus or train is on the map.

To learn more about the work that goes into launching an exciting new feature like this one, we interviewed Ramesh Nagarajan, a product lead on Maps, who spearheaded the project.

 

What inspired you to launch the commute tab on Google Maps?

Over a billion people commute weekly. Based on the extensive user research we have done, to better understand people’s commutes across multiple cities around the world (and coupled with our own experiences), we know that commuters face many problems and have unique needs that Maps didn’t do enough to support.

 

So, we set out to address many of these needs and build features that commuters can use daily. As commuters generally know how to get home or to work, we knew we had to go beyond directions to give them real-time info on disruptions, delays, and departures.

 

We also felt that building out the commute experience as a tab on the homepage of Maps would help put the rich experience we have front and center. That way, it’s really easy for people to access this information with one tap.

 

Why was music integration an important feature to include?

 

Our research showed that a lot of people viewed the time they spent on their commutes as “dead time” and the experience they had on their commute directly translated to how they felt the rest of that day. So we wanted to see if we could make their commute more enjoyable and productive even when sitting in traffic.

 

The first step towards that goal was the music integration. Drivers get alerts on traffic conditions, accidents, and other incidents that affect their trip while using live navigation on Maps. So building music controls into the navigation screen made it quick and easy to manage their music, while also letting them focus on the road.     

 

Screenshot 2018-10-15 at 6.47.11 PM.pngCaption: An image of a phone on a blue background that shows the new music controls on Google Maps.What were some of the challenges you faced while developing the commute tab?

We faced a number of interesting logistical, technical, and product challenges while building the commute tab and its related commute features.

 

On the product and technical side one of the most complicated things we did was around adding support for mixed mode commutes—trips that combine driving, cycling, or transit in one journey.

 

One common example of a mixed mode commute is driving to a transit station, parking and then using commuter rail to get to work. We wanted to make sure we accommodate these types of trips and had to do extensive technical changes to our routing engine, station lookup, and other infrastructure to model these commutes and provide users with accurate ETAs. All that on top of providing info on any disruptions or delays that might affect the whole journey.

 

One of the other interesting challenges wasn’t technical, but about localization. The word “commute” does not exist in all languages. We are using “daily trips” in its place with the additional requirement that it has to be relatively short to fit below icons and as part of titles.

 

What’s one thing you learned while working on this project?
We learned lots of things about people’s commutes, especially about how long and varied they are. For example, in North America, on average, people spend over an hour each day on their commute which roughly translates to the equivalent of a two-week vacation spent commuting every year. We also learned that people use multiple transport modes, or change modes depending on things like weather.

 

Some even use interesting modes like this one lady who we interviewed as part of our research who uses a unicycle to get to work everyday!  

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

This is just the beginning of our investments in making people’s commutes better. We have a lot more to come that will let us support more varied types of commutes (such as folks who have multiple destinations they commute to, e.g. school some days, work on others), more types of commute modes (two-wheelers, rideshare, etc.) as well as other improvements that we hope will take the stress out of the commute and help our users get to work or home in the ideal way.


The new commute features are now rolling out globally on Android and iOS. To get started, be sure to download or update your Google Maps app from the App Store or Play StoreTo learn how to set up your commute, visit our Help Center.

61 Comments
Level 6

Would be good if the graph were movable so you can plan for the future

Level 8

wonderful tools, congrats  team

Level 2

my name is M.Shafiq and I am Pakistan and my cell Nomber is [personal phone number]

Google Moderator

Hi @Shafiqspg.

 

I have edited your messages because for us the privacy of each one is important and it is not advisable to share private information.

Level 10

Wow great to know about the product lead behind the new commute tab. 

Level 10
  • @AriMar उपयोगकर्ताओं के लिए मैप से टीम की ओर सेे लघुउपकरणों की व्यवस्था का मैप टीम को बधाई ओर प्रसन्नता व्यक्त करता हूं
Level 10

Hi, @AriMar

This is brilliant addition the new feature is very useful to guide about traffic 

Thanks for sharing

Level 10

@AriMar

Very informative interview. Thank you !

Level 6

Wow genial me encanta todo lo que surge con respecto a Google Maps es una excelente herramienta  y cada vez nos facilita más la calidad de vida, creo que es una gran aporte para la humanidad y nuestro día a día Saluditos harbyn Films 

Level 8

Great news, good tools 😁😁💪

Level 6

Many customers are retired, or work from home and we do NOT commute. But Maps keeps prompting me to define where I work so that the commute code has a destination. Please conside users such as this. It is annoying to be prompted again anad again for our commute info.

 

Thanks!

 

BTW Maps is probably the best Google app.

Level 10

Wow! Great addition new feature @AriMar thanks for update. 

Level 8

Nice feature in Google maps thank you @AriMar sharing with us...

Güzel Bir uygula etkin olarak kullanım açısından gragik düzenlemeleri yapılması gayet iyi olur. Tebrik ediyorum böyle bir çalışmanın kazandırılması açısından.

Level 8

thnaks for sharing this inspiring post @AriMar :)

and many many thanks to Ramesh Nagarajan and behind the scenes Googlers :)

Level 10

Thanks a lot! @AriMar for your greatful information sharing with us.

Level 7

I will meet with the local guides in your city and I will help you with your help

Level 7

Really a helpful Tab for People who have travel stress thanks google for feeling our pain

Connect Moderator

Thank you for sharing this wonderful post @AriMar 😊

Level 10

Namskar .. @AriMar

 

Thanks for Sharing Useful Information..

 

Level 6

@AriMar

Great update and it completely makes sense!!! But we still don't know what countries get the new live commute tab! Please provide details what countries get it. Thank you in advance :)

Level 7

Love. The tab, but for people like me who are disabled and unable to work it needs the ability to be disabled or changed etc.  Otherwise it's pretty sweet! 

Level 4

I love the new tabs and music control right in the app. However, there are no options/capabilities for mixed commute (as advertised). Any idea of when that feature is comming to all markets? Thank you.

Level 8

Thanks for all your hard work on this feature. As someone who flies into small towns to work and maintains a number of workplaces it would be useful to setup multiple commutes that are automatically populated based on my current location.

Level 6

Excelente la nueva actualización también me gustaría que agregaran una opción donde podamos indicar el tráfico en tiempo real sea por cierre de vía accidente retención gracias y los felicito 

Level 8
Very informative post! Thanks for sharing.
Level 9

Nice feature, thank you @AriMar for sharing with us.

Level 5

espectacular para poder guiarme

DaleSchultz You are right in projecting this issue. Ritired people donot commute regularly - but they do have more time for contribution to Google Maps.

Level 8

I saw the update yesterday, good work
Music integration is also a good idea, loving the overall experience 

Level 7

অনেক ভাল লাগলো 

Level 7

 I agree with your words and I agree with your words

This is great. I will spread the word in other forums. 

Level 9

Halo @AriMar terima kasih sudah berbagi informasi tentang fitur atau app di connect. Informasi ini sangat bermanfaat buat Local Guide. Salam 

The updated Commute tab is such a great step in the right direciton! The UX is great and clean!

Level 8

 I can appreciate this is a fantastic feature for many users, good work, and thanks for the detailed update.

However, personally the functionally is of little use. I work from home, and visit clients in several locations.

The previous traffic tab used to advise of travel information for regular places I visited on my timeline, which was very helpful.

 

It is a shame this information is no longer available.

Level 6

hso nice news 

Level 10

Nice update but still "Navigation" is not available in Iran and I don't know why

Level 1

Great interview

Level 10

@Ramesh Nagarajan congratulations on this.

Level 7

Awesome to hear the perspective of the product lead behind some awesome new functionality in Maps!

Level 3

thu mua phe lieu Minh Hiếu hân hạnh phục vụ khách hàng

Level 5
Nice tool and so good information to share...
Level 2

Really helpful and nice features...and thanks for sharing.

@AriMar  It's good to know the how everything came together for this project.  Good work!

Level 8

Yes the commute tab is a very useful addition!!

Many many Congrats!!

 

The addition I like a lot too is the shared list of places to eat at for a group decision!

 

Kol 

Level 3
Hello friends

Hello AriMar

Level 8

@AriMar Hey Ari, interesting post. It would be super cool to really meet Ramesh Nagarajan with a photo in the interview. 

Level 7

@AriMar

The tab part looks ok, but it should have an option at the bottom as well. because moving at the top makes it inconvenient.