For nearly a decade, the world foremost navigation system, Google Map has been a valuable friend, not just for drivers and motorists but also for every kind of mobile user. Google is taking that friendship to the next level by launching a new set of features that allow motocycle riders to take advantage of the app. With Google Map being a key feature used by Uber drivers, let us examine how the new feature could impact bike hailing.
For +1M Kenyans, boda bodas are a convenient and affordable way to move and transport goods @Googlemaps’ new motorbike mode now provides directions and turn-by-turn navigation for boda boda riders to allow for more time efficient routes #Google4Kenya #twatembeapamoja pic.twitter.com/4e4bL6xTlY
— Google in Africa (@googleafrica) October 15, 2018
Google Launches Motorbike Mode for Google Maps
In December 2017, the search engine giant launched Motorbike Mode for Google Maps. The new feature helps motorbike riders easily navigate through traffic in their cities and provides them information about the shortest routes to their destination. The feature is available for Android users only with no timeline on when it will launch on iOS.
#Bodaboda users in #Kenya to now enjoy with #GoogleMaps motorbike mode. A feature which will help motorcyclists to get directions, calculate travel time accurately. https://t.co/4tnCkXpwSc #eastafrica, #tech pic.twitter.com/3wgrBVG6hk
— RegionWeek | Eng (@RegionWeek) October 19, 2018
Unfortunately, the feature is not globally available. Motorbike Mode first launched in India, the world’s largest market for motorbikes. The feature is also available to riders in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. For now no Nigeria, and it sucks!
However, the good news is that Google is gradually making the feature available to more countries including its first incursion into Africa. Last week, the search engine company launched Motorbike Mode in Kenya. If it has landed in Africa, Nigerian okada riders should brace up for the change that’s coming.
How Motorbike Mode Could Disrupt Transportation in Nigeria
The Motorbike Mode for Google Maps comes with a lot of promise. The most important impact it will have is on the business of bike hailing.
Like Uber, bike hailing is disrupting the Nigerian transportation industry. Using technology, a few startups have developed ways to connect users to the nearest motorbikes (okadas) within their location. This helps people move quickly and helps them beat the notorious traffic on the road (especially in Lagos). Let’s not forget they’re cheaper.
It's a beautiful day to ride with us. GOKADA is your smartest means of transportation in Lagos, considering all the traffic. #movewithGokada #DomorewithGokada pic.twitter.com/vBWipgjCaY
— Gokada – Delivering all 7 days (@GokadaNG) October 16, 2018
And not just for ride hailing, other companies are using motorbikes to improve parcel and logistics delivery in the country. LifeBank and Max.NG are two examples of such companies.
The new Motorbike mode will give these services the boost they need to become more efficient.
But how will they do that? It is pertinent to note that Google didn’t just roll out the new feature out of the blues. It developed the feature paying attention to a few peculiar traits and information about bike riders. Motorbike Mode for Google Maps comes with a number of features that mimic how riders operate on a regular day.
For instance, an average okada rider may not rely on street names for directions. Instead they depend on landmarks like names of schools, hospitals, beer parlors, vulcanizer shops, among many others. It is therefore not unusual to meet bikers who don’t know the rider’s destination but would ask them to jump in anyway. The journey usually ends in hassles and embarrassment. Google’s Motorbike Mode could eradicate that.
Typically, even without traffic, okadas tend to follow street roads, tight corners and ‘Appian Ways’ that are not accessible to cars or truck drivers. It’s the main reason why motor bikes are quite popular and preferred in many developing countries of the world. Motorbike Mode reveals the shortcuts in the app that can only be used by bikes.
It’s quite neat!
One major challenge Motorbikes Mode could face though is that most okada riders in Nigeria are illiterate and mostly averse to use of phone apps. But this challenge could spur a shift in that section of the transport industry because it could see the rise of more educated and tech-savvy bike men. Who knows?
Unfortunately, there’s no timeline for when Motorbikes Mode will roll into Nigeria. We hope to see it launched really soon.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!