Google Maps Will Let You Draw Missing Roads

Illustration for article titled Google Maps Will Let You Draw Missing Roads
Screenshot: Gizmodo/YouTube

Google Maps is great—except when it’s not. Missing roads, incorrect street names, closed-down bridges, and more can really put a hamper on your travels. And by “put a hamper on your travels,” I mean it’ll throw you into a blind rage as you stomp on the gas while you try to figure out where the hell you need to go when Maps leads you astray. But those frustrating inaccuracies are likely about to become fewer and far between thanks to a new crowd-fueled feature.

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Google Maps is rolling out the ability for users to “draw” in missing roads and correct other details directly from Maps on a desktop.

“Add missing roads by drawing lines, quickly rename roads, change road directionality, and realign or delete incorrect roads. You can even let us know if a road is closed with details like dates, reasons and directions,” Google wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

To make an edit, go to Maps in your browser and click the menu button in the top-left corner and scroll down to “Edit the map.” From there, you’ll be able to draw in a missing road or make other edits. Of course, left unchecked this feature would be a nightmare that rapidly renders Maps an unusable disaster. So before any changes are made, Google will review user-suggested edits or additions before implementing them into Maps.

The drawing feature wasn’t yet available when we tried to use it (you can already suggest edits, but the drawing thing isn’t there yet), but Google says it will be available in 80 countries within the next few months.

In addition to adding the drawing feature, Google also added the ability for people to add “photo updates” to businesses or other places that are separate from reviews. So if, for example, you wanted to let other people know that the parking lot at a local trailhead is only large enough for two cars, you could snap a picture and post it to Maps as a simple heads-up. To access this feature, just click on a place and click the Updates tab, where you can find the option to upload a photo.

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Navigation apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze (which Google also owns) remain one of the most useful kinds of apps, providing tangible value—while also gobbling up our data to further solidify the corporate surveillance embedded in contemporary life. But even if navigating the privacy implications feels like swinging your fist in a pitch-black room, with these new updates, at least navigating on your next road trip should be a little less hit-or-miss.

Deputy Editor, Gizmodo

DISCUSSION

Add missing roads by drawing lines, quickly rename roads, change road directionality, and realign or delete incorrect roads. You can even let us know if a road is closed with details like dates, reasons and directions,” Google wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

I figured I would try this, as one of my sisters lives off a road that dead ends off a cliff and resumes on the other side — yet Google shows the road crossing The Void (something you will do if you follow the map). There is no delete road feature.

And I’ve been reporting this “feature” to various maps for years, ever since my mother yelled at me for ignoring her GPS on the way to my sisters. So we listened, and I pointed out the lovely house two down on the other side of the “scenic overlook”.