When you ask Google Maps to show the best route from A to B, here’s what happens behind the scenes:
- Google looks at the addresses you give it and finds their latitude and longitude coordinates (this is called geocoding). Then it puts two markers on the map at these coordinates.
- Google identifies all the possible road segments between your two points.
- Then it scores those road segments based on factors like the shortest distance, the length of connecting road segments, and the traffic conditions at the time of the day.
- It returns you the highest scoring route, and some runner-up alternatives.
And it all happens faster than you can read this sentence — amazing!
There’s more complexity to its algorithm, but you can trust Google Maps to do two things:
- Give you a very good path from your current location to your destination.
- Provide an impressively accurate Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). When Google released the Android operating system for mobile devices, it began capturing real time traffic and location data from its users. That has made its travel time calculations accurate beyond anything we’ve known before.
So if you’re looking for the shortest path between two stops, then Google Maps is a fantastic navigation app.