- Google Maps added a feature that lets smartphone users get directions from Mario, the star character from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. franchise. Starting on Mario Day, whose abbreviation is MAR10, the mapping app added a feature to change the navigation arrow into an icon of Mario driving a racing cart, per a company blog post.
- To get started, smartphone users need to update their Google Maps app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store. By clicking on the yellow question mark (“?”) icon on the bottom right of the app screen, users can select Mario Time to see the new graphics, which run for a week.
- Smartphone users can take a screenshot of their route and share it with @GoogleMaps on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #MarioMaps. Google warns people to protect their privacy by not sharing personal details like a home or work address on social media.
Google Maps and Nintendo show how the combined power of two brands can generate buzz on mobile platforms as the Mario Time feature appears in the navigation app for a limited time. As a leader in mobile mapping technology, Google has an opportunity to offer unique marketing opportunities for brands that take advantage of a popular activity with engagements tailored for smartphones and the growth in local mobile advertising.
Navigation apps, such as Google Maps, Waze or Apple Maps, are among the most popular features of smartphones in the U.S. since their introduction in the mid-2000s. About nine in 10 (84%) U.S. adults use navigation apps, making them the most popular software that feature elements of artificial intelligence (AI), per researcher Gallup.
Google Maps has had fun with customizing its appearance, such as last year’s transformation of the navigation arrow into Ms. Pac-Man for April Fool’s Day. It also morphed the arrow into a TIE fighter or an X-Wing as part of the promotion for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, per the Verge.
Google Maps has been busy with other promotions related to calendar dates, such for International Women’s Day. The mapping app last week released a feature allowing businesses to promote themselves on the platform as being owned, founded or led by women, per Curbed. The feature lets business owners include an icon of the female gender symbol as a descriptor of their listing on Google Maps, similar to attributes like “Has Wi-Fi” and “Outdoor seating.”
Google Maps last week also added the Street View of Disney amusement parks to let viewers do a virtual walkthrough without ever leaving home. Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are among the Disney properties that can be seen in 360-degree photos.