Google Maps App Update Adds New Features

April 28, 2016

Google recently updated their Google Maps app to include a lot of new and incredibly useful features. Google maps on Android and iOS devices saw the bulk of the benefit of this particular update, with iOS app users receiving the most noticeable changes. So what’s new and what’s improved? explores the Google Maps app update in full.

The app update backstory

Google maps app updateYes, this Google Maps app update has a backstory. The app had seen only minor changes over the course of the last couple of updates, but this one marked a change that was welcomed by just about everyone. So what happened?

You may or may not have heard that not too long ago, Google purchased a maps and traffic dataapp company called Waze. The purchase price was $1 billion USD, the largest purchase Google has made to date. You can read up on Waze in our article highlighting the best traffic apps, but in short, the company was competing directly with Google’s free map service. The purchase looked like it might cause an unfair shift in market share, so the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stepped in to investigate. While that investigation is ongoing, the update has rolled out.

What’s in the Google Maps app update?

In general, it appears some of Waze’s features have been incorporated into Google Maps. This includes traffic data as well as traffic alerts and Google’s suggestions for the best places to eat, shop, or sleep based on existing Google reviews generated by its users. The recommendations also include a new five-star rating system that will display based on what your friends have rated these establishments.

That sounds helpful enough, but this update brings with it a significant improvement to driving directions that includes route alternatives as well as turn-by-turn driving directions which also update according to road closures and traffic accidents, suggesting alternative routes in the even that something is preventing you from driving your chosen route to your destination.

Maybe you don’t drive. That’s fine, you get an update too. Google Maps now offers public transit information worldwide, as well as biking directions.

Overall, it’s a very significant and visible upgrade to the app’s functionality.

New features for Android and iOS apps

Android phones received the new update as well and Google launched an additional, dedicated Google Maps app for tablets running Android. More recently, these changes were brought to Apple’s iOS devices including the iPhone and iPad. The tablet versions of Google Maps, both Android and iOS, offer improved functionality and (finally) bring “street view” to these devices. Not only that, but the layout and design have been adapted to better fit the unique screen sizes of tablet devices.

What it means for drivers

While it’s great that getting from place to place is getting easier all the time thanks to ever-improving apps like Google Maps, it’s important to remember that new software almost always has bugs. It’s important to keep that in mind and to be aware of yourself and others in traffic while using features such as turn-by-turn directions. It’s also wise to be aware of your state’s distracted driving laws as operation of certain phone-based programs could be illegal. We wouldn’t want you to wind up with a moving violation that could result in higher auto insurance rates.

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