Picture this: you’re using Google Maps to navigate to a place you’ve never been and time is pressing, but you’ve made it! You’ve found the location, but there’s a problem: you don’t know how to get into whatever building you’re trying to access, and panic sets in. Maybe that’s just me, but if you can relate it looks like we’re getting some good news – Google Maps is testing a feature that shows you exactly where you can enter buildings.

According to Android Police, Google Maps is working on a feature showing users entrance indicator icons for selected buildings. I can immediately see how this could make it easier to find your way in and out of a location. Loading markers like this would require a lot of internet data if done for every suitable building in a given area, especially metropolitan and densely packed areas, but it seems Google has accounted for this; the entrance icons will only become visible when you select a precise location and zoom in closely. 

Google Maps is an immensely popular app for navigation as well as looking up recommendations for various activities, like finding attractions or places to eat. If you’ve ever actually done this in practice, you’ve possibly had a situation like I’ve described above, especially if you’re trying to find your way around a larger attraction or building. Trying to find the correct entrance to an expo center or sports stadium can be a nightmare. Places like these will often have multiple entrances with different accessibility options – such as underground train stations that stretch across several streets.

Google's experimentation should help users manage those parts of their journeys better, starting with only certain users and certain buildings for now, displaying icons that indicate both where you can enter a place and exit it (if there are exit/entrance-only doors, for example). This feature follows the introduction of Google Maps’ recent addition of indicators of the best station exits and entrances for users of public transport.

Google Maps being used to travel across New York

(Image credit: Shutterstock / TY Lim)

The present state of the new feature

Android Police tested the new feature on Google Maps version 11.17.0101 on a Google Pixel 7a. As Google seemingly intended, Google Maps showed entrances for a place only when it was selected and while the user zoomed in on it, showing a white circle with a symbol indicating ‘entry’ on it. That said, Android Police wasn’t able to use the feature on other devices running the latest version of Google Maps for different regions, which indicates that Google Maps is rolling this feature out gradually following limited and measured testing. 

While using the Google Pixel 7a, Android Police tested various types of buildings including hotels, doctors’ offices, supermarkets, hardware stores, cafes, and restaurants in cities that include New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Berlin. Some places had these new entrance and exit markers and some didn’t, which probably means that Google is still in the process of gathering accurate and up-to-date information on these places, most likely via its StreetView tool. Another issue that came up was that some of the indicated entrances were not in the right place, but teething issues are inevitable and this problem seemed more common for smaller buildings where it’s actually easier to find the entrance once you’re there in person.

The entrances were sometimes marked by a green arrow instead of a white circle, and it’s not clear at this point exactly what it means when a green arrow or a white circle is used. Google Maps has a reputation as a very helpful, functional, and often dependable app, so whatever new features are rolled out, Google probably wants to make sure they’re up to a certain standard. I hope they complete the necessary stages of experimenting and implementing this new feature, and I look forward to using it as soon as I can.


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