AMAP was launched as a simple mapping and geolocation application. After integrating it with other local services to better cater to facets of Chinese life and maintain agility in a highly competitive industry, Alibaba recently announced an AI-powered feature upgrade to AMAP.
You can think of Alibaba’s mobile real-time mapping and navigation app as China’s equivalent of Google Maps, both of which are constantly being improved.
Amap – Alibaba’s Great Lifestyle App
Amap has previously been integrated with other local services such as business resource Koubei and travel booking tool Fliggy to form a holistic application addressing all facets of daily life in China.
Amap users looking for restaurants can check reviews, book on Koubei or order with Ele.me, the food delivery service. The platform also operates Fliggy for booking hotels or purchasing tickets. It caters to all ages, including having great policies and special resources like hospitals, parks, and ride-sharing services for seniors.
The upgraded system not only creates a digital twin of the world around the driver, including well-known landmarks rendered with 3D modeling, real-time traffic updates but also a virtual character for guidance in the app. It integrates real-time visual information (weather, traffic and natural environment, etc.) into its 3D visualization mode.
Along with driver and pedestrian perspectives, users can opt for a bird’s-eye view or night mode to see landmarks in the dark. According to Sun Chong, AMAP Project Manager, “ the upgrade borrowed rendering technologies from the gaming industry. Virtual icons on the map look more realistic thanks to improved shading.”
The immersive browsing experience extends to local hotspots, making it easy to find shops and restaurants, even in massive malls.
The feature is available in six Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, with more urban metropolises in the pipeline.
A digital creation named Xiao Gao Lao Shi (Teacher Gao) is an integral part of the latest Amap upgrade. As soon as the application is opened, it greets the driver and accompanies him through the 3D cities, transforming the process of map reading into a conversation.
The latter can ask him questions about the destination, the weather, the traffic situation in real time, the location of gas stations during their trip.
The virtual co-pilot will suggest the most energy-efficient routes and alert of any impending obstacles, traffic jams or accidents on the route. In the event of long periods of driving, it will remind you that it may be wise to take a break.
Sun Chong commented:
“We hope that Teacher Gao can create more privacy and comfort for users’ daily needs, not only functionally, but also emotionally.” ».