Google Unveils Plus Codes: A New, Open-Source Alternative to Street Addresses

Google Maps brings Plus codes to India, adds voice navigation in six new Indian languages

Google has developed an open-sourced solution - Plus Codes - which represents a simple and consistent addressing system that works across India and globally. Essentially, they are digital alternatives to the addresses we have physically.

In addition to adding missing addresses, Google is also rolling out "Smart Address Search" starting today, where Google Maps will give the best estimate of the location of the address by making use of landmarks, businesses or any nearby locality that is added in the address. The main problem that the company faces in India is with residential addresses, which do not follow a fixed format and may vary from region to region. The other reality is that millions of people and places in India are hard to locate - especially those in remote areas. "We are deeply committed to helping find solutions to these challenges", Ruhela added. Called Plus Codes, it's a location-based digital tagging system that divides the landscape into tiles and assigns a unique code to each, making navigation easier. This code is in a "6-character + City" format which is generated when a user drops a pin on Google Maps.

"The open source nature of the system means that applications that use location services can easily incorporate it on their platforms for free", Google said in a release.

So, how do the Plus Codes work? When you're near a place, you don't have to include the area code.

Each Plus Code is ten characters, with the first four characters are the area code, describing a region of roughly 100 x 100 kilometers. It describes the area roughly of the size of a half basketball court, around 14 x 14 meters.

In my experience, it is better still than using an actual address. The local code in such cases is combined with nearest city or town to make it simpler.

For those needing more precision, an additional, optional character can be used to improve accuracy to roughly 3 x 3 meters - above the size of a small auto, points Google. Similarly, entering a Plus Code into the search bar also has the same result. To use a "Plus Code", users need to simply enter it into the Search field on Google or Google Maps, mobile or desktop, which will instantly show a location.

How will Plus Code change the way we navigate? So, the next time you are using Google Maps, make sure you use all these features. Several regions in the world bear no markers, such as street names or house numbers. For any given location, the Plus Code can be around 10 digits long at most, with a "+" sign before the last two digits of the code. These Plus codes can come in handy for a wide variety of reasons for instance- while communicating the venue of a temporary event, guiding emergency services to afflicted locations, or providing an identifiable location for complicated addresses.In an another step aimed at facilitating accurate and easy searching on Maps, Google has introduced an "Add an Address" feature. Google says that it will check the submitted entries and verification, and after ensuring that they don't contain details like the name of the people or phone numbers, it will approve them to be included in the list of addresses in the Google Maps.

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