Google Maps provides traffic alerts when not in navigation and new driver mode

Google_Maps

Google_Maps

Turn-by-turn navigation — introduced more than 6 years ago in Android 2.0 Eclair — is easily one of the biggest features to hit Android devices since Adobe Flash. With the ability to track useful information like traffic, road closures, or accidents, it seems the only time you ever really use it is when you’re plugging in a new destination and aren’t exactly sure how to get there. But what about those times when you’re just driving around town, or making a 30 minute drive and already know where you’re going? A new update to Google Maps has the answer.

They’re calling it “Driving Mode” and it’s rolling out in a new Google Maps update. Once it lands on your device, you’ll be able to choose Driving Mode from either inside the app, or using a new shortcut located in the widget drawer. From there, you can sit back and drive around as you normally would, only receiving real-time traffic information and alerts as you drive. It’s not too different from how Waze is used and yet another example of how Google is slowly integrating some of Waze’s best features into Maps. Driving Mode is also able to predict where you’re headed based on your location history and Google searches. So if you hit up the same Mexican spot every taco Tuesday, Maps will know.

The update also brings slight UI changes like making it easier to spot audio toggles while navigating, as well as a few new settings inside Maps’ Timeline feature (like being able to hide Google Photos from appearing). It’s all coming soon to Google Maps 9.19, but keep in mind this is a server side update, so even if you’re running this latest version you’ll need to wait until Google decides to push the new feature to your app in the coming days.

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