Google Maps for Android is Getting Real-Time Traffic Updates, More

Posted on February 6, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, Mobile with 16 Comments

Google Maps for Android is Getting Real-Time Traffic Updates, More

Google Maps is one of the most indispensable mobile apps. But it’s getting even better this week with an update for Android that provides real-time traffic data and other useful new features.

That real-time data addition appears to be the perfect mobile-based companion functionality to one of Google Maps’s best features on the PC: Its ability to predict how long a drive will take if you tell it when you need to arrive at the destination. For example, if you want to arrive at the airport at, say, 5 pm on a Monday, Google Maps can tell you when you should leave. Because that drive will vary according to both routine traffic changes as well as real-time incidents such as accidents.

So adding real-time traffic data to the mobile app makes tons of sense. And it’s happening first on Android, Google says. This feature provides real-time ETAs for your commute and other directions, including traffic conditions and delays, and more. (This is outside of the driving mode.)

“Starting today we’re rolling out an update to Google Maps on Android that provides helpful everyday info—in real time—at the bottom of your home screen,” Google Maps product manager Marcus Lowe explains. “Just swipe up and you’ll see three tabs that will help you find a nearby restaurant, beat traffic, or catch the next bus.”

As that quote suggests, the ability to find nearby places like restaurants is quite interesting, especially for those coming to Android from Windows phone: This appears to work much like the Local Scout feature that Microsoft implemented back in the day on its own mobile platform.

“Under the places tab, you’ll see curated lists of places to eat and drink like ‘best dinners,’ ‘cheap eats’ or ‘business dining,’ around you or in any location you choose,” Lowe notes. “In one tap you can also search for other everyday spots like ATMs, pharmacies, gas stations and grocery stores. Peek at images of the area or read a short description of the neighborhood to get the lay of the land.”

The new transit functionality—shades of HERE Transit, perhaps—will provide recommendations for which bus or train to take, provide information about upcoming buses and trains, and will help you find nearby stations.

Google Maps is amazing. You should be using this, no matter what you think of this company.

(There’s no word, curiously on when this functionality is coming to Google Maps for iOS.)

 

Tagged with , ,

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (16)

16 responses to “Google Maps for Android is Getting Real-Time Traffic Updates, More”

  1. 6169

    Another feature that Windows has had for years.

  2. 217

    I wish they would just merge Waze and Maps together already, but I always lean towards GMaps. My guess is this new functionality is now being baked into Maps where it previously sat inside Google Now, albeit if it never was released to the public yet.

  3. 268

    I wonder if this is just exposing what they already had in Google Now cards? I previously had a MS Band 2, and the cards would come to the band as notifications. So I would be at work and start getting "30 minutes to home" messages on the band about an hour before the time I usually leave. By the time I do leave, it would be "40 minutes to home". The bad thing? It isn't predictive. It seems to assume that the conditions in front of you "right now" will remain during the entire time of your drive. Instead of using information from previous days to determine how traffic gets worse later in the commute. So I would leave, and as I drove out of the lot it would be saying "42 minutes to home" and after driving for 5 minutes it would say "50 minutes to home", and then after 10 more minutes "45 minutes to home" as traffic continued its normal, every day, process of getting worse during the commute.

    Here's hoping that this isn't just exposing the existing info but is actually updated with predicted info based on the route and the historical data that Google has on traffic patterns.

  4. 10232

    I did a small double-take at this article since Google Maps iOS has had this functionality since last November, via the Nearby Traffic and Travel Times widgets.  I re-read the Google post and while it's finally coming to Android, I didn't see anywhere where it actually said that Android is getting this first.

    • 5615

      In reply to Syke_Ward:

      Unless I'm misunderstanding this feature, I've had this in Google Maps on my Nexus 5X since last year. I've been getting traffic warnings and arrival updates since at least last summer, because I remember Google Maps notifying me of an accident just up ahead along my route on a trip last June or July.

      In fact, I just asked it to give me a route to a city 350 miles away and this very moment Google Maps shows me there's an accident on the highway about 70 miles from here (along the route) and indicates it'll delay my arrival by 13 minutes.

      And as someone else mentioned, Google Now Cards have been doing this since forever, it seems.

  5. 2470

    It seems like everything mentioned in this article has been in Google Maps for Android for a while now.  This looks more like a facelift than a new feature set.  I use Google Maps every day to get between home and work for the specific reason that it routes me around traffic in real time.

  6. 5234

    I've seen this on my Nexus phone last year.  I'm not sure if this is new for non-Nexus devices, but it would still offer predictive travel departure times and such.  It even tied into public transit (sometimes I take a bus).

  7. 5101

    I'll echo other commenters and say I don't think real time traffic info is anything new. I've been using this for years. Instead it looks like a slightly different way to expose this information.

  8. 5496

    didn't they have this for years.

    Maybe he still have a super bowl hangover, so he's reposting old stuff that he thinks is new.

    • 5615

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      Yes, Google maps on Android has had most of this functionality for a while. Except for maybe the detailed transit stuff, there's really nothing new here. After reading the Google blog post, what they've done is taken mostly existing functionality and made it available in a different way. So, it sounds like they've just tried to make it more easily discoverable and/or usable.

      The blog post doesn't mention whether this is currently a U.S.-only thing and it also seems to imply that this "new" functionality only works properly if you've designated a Home and Work address. I haven't designated either and, when I try to get transit info from my current location to the local train station via bus, it say's there's no transit info available. In fact, there is a direct bus that runs every half hour. So, clearly this doesn't work everywhere.

      • 5615

        In reply to offTheRecord:

        A slight update to my reply. Although Google Maps does not have any information about the bus that goes from here to the local train station, they do have current train schedule information for that train station. So, at least for me here, it's not complete, but it does have some of the transit information.

  9. 6978

    That's great and all, but I still find that Google Maps often has me go way out of the way to many destinations.

    In other words, when the destination is directly in front of me, Google still says "Drive 1.2 miles to this street, make a U turn, turn left, make another U turn and go in a circle twice!" :-|

    My BlackBerry Z10 and Classic native maps/driving directions app always got me from point A to B with no hassle (BlackBerry actually uses TomTom). It also notified me of traffic conditions and routed me in the best way to avoid traffic. And this is a 5+ year old operating system!

    If Google can get it's driving directions working better like BlackBerry's native 10 app, I wouldn't mind using it all of the time...

Leave a Reply