How Often Does Google Maps Update? When Will it Update Next?
Have you ever looked up your home or school or other place of interest on Google Maps, zoomed in, and exclaimed “Hey! That’s not what it looks like now!” Maybe you put in or took out a swimming pool, or your neighbor’s old red barn burned down two years ago—yet there’s the old view of the property from space. What’s up with that? Well, of course, Google Maps doesn’t update in real-time, or even with a great deal of frequency. In fact, for some places, the maps may be years out of date! Lots of people have wondered how often Google Maps updates, and how to find out when it’s going to update next, for a given spot, so we decided to explore this question and see what we could discover.
Google Maps uses satellite-based photography from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Landsat 8 satellites. These offer very detailed views covering almost the entire surface of the planet. Google accesses these images and also uses a sophisticated algorithm to detect cloud cover and replace overcast areas with previous footage so that its users get an uninterrupted view of the world. All this information is put into a copy of Earth Engine, which crunches all the data and creates the map.
The Landsat program is government-funded but the data it gathers is available to the entire world. Scientists, researchers, environmental groups and Google Maps are just some of the people that access this information to learn more about the earth and how it changes over time. According to Google, the data they compile from the Landsat program amounts to almost a petabyte, or 700 trillion pixels. It would take almost a billion 1280×960 computer monitors to display the entire map at once!
How often does Google Maps update?
Google doesn’t have a fixed schedule of updates, or if it does, it doesn’t release that information to the public. However, from empirical data collection, we know that the update frequency depends on what part of the world is being imaged. In small, highly-populated portions of the continental United States, updates can happen as often as every week. For places more isolated, the frequency could be as slow as every couple of years or longer.
According to The Google Earth Blog, the more populated a place is, the more often it will be updated. Some parts of the country are updated often, including cities like New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and other important metro areas. However, rural areas, including much of the United States outside of the coasts, are updated on a much slower scale, only when something is considered important enough to update. For example, if a new land development sprouts up with dozens of houses where there was once a field, Google will update this portion of the map quickly, in order to ensure that they’re offering users not just the ability to see what’s around them, but the new addresses of their friends. However, smaller things, including examples like your new pool, aren’t deemed important enough for Google to update their content. This makes some amount of sense, especially considering how often billions of people around the world change their home and backyards.
Follow Your World
If you’re interested in following Google Earth and Google Maps, there is a useful site you can subscribe to called ‘Follow Your World’. This allows you to define spots on Google Maps by browsing for the location you want to follow, and then Google Maps will alert you whenever that spot is due for an update.
It is a simple but very effective little tool if you are into maps or are curious as to when the Street View image of your house will be updated.
What about Google Street View?
As with the regular Google Maps program, Google does not release the exact update schedule for Google Street View. Like with Maps, how often Street View is updated will depend on the area you live in. Google is constantly updating metro areas because of the turnover on buildings, restaurants, companies, and more. However, if you live in a rural area, there’s often no need to update Street View until several years have passed. Remember that Street View involves a full van equipped with thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment driving down roads, so don’t be surprised if Street View in your neighborhood is only updated every half decade—or longer.
This page on the Google Street View website is a good indicator of where Google Street View has been and where it is going in the near future. The main map shows where Google Street View has been so far, which is a good place to start. Scroll down the page and you will see a central window with an update schedule in it. You can browse this to see where the cameras are going next. The information is only provided down to the city level, however; Google Street View won’t tell you which parts of town are going to be updated.
If you live outside the United States, select the dropdown box above the schedule window to find out if you are getting a Google Street View update anytime soon.
What’s new in Google Maps?
For the longest time it seemed Google Maps didn’t evolve much at all. Over the past couple of years, a lot has happened and the app is now better than ever. Recently, Google added a feature that allows you to track friends in real time when they share their location with you, either for limited amounts of time or a specific location that doesn’t update live. Google Maps has added content like music players, speedometers, and accident reporting to help make the platform more powerful than ever.
The new location tracker feature can be enabled by using GPS on your smartphone and tapping the blue dot in Google Maps. Select Share location and how long you want to share it for. You can allow a time limit for tracking, which is a neat touch. You then send a link to whomever you want to share it with.
A more useful recent addition is the ability to find parking in your city. This new feature began arriving gradually this year and is now part of the Google Maps app. When exploring your city, you should see a rounded ‘P’ at various points on the map. This shows you where there is parking.
You can also save the location where you parked so you never get lost again and even track the amount of time you have left on the meter. Use this new feature and you should never get a ticket ever again!