While it's possible to have a great deal of fun with Google Maps, as seen through its local radio discovery feature, it's also a serious travel app companion for road awareness and keeping you safe in your car.
Google, of course, is the owner of both Google Maps and Waze, keeping the two apps aligned, but also rolling out separate updates to both. This means Waze and Google Maps are variously at different stages when it comes to features, as many people will know if they use the pair on any of our best sat nav models.
Now, as Google Maps increasingly adopts Waze’s most useful features, it has struck once again to borrow, pinch, and pilfer, another of Waze’s prized features – that being the notification system that alerts users to rail crossings, or other hazards, and the subsequent delays to your journey.
Google Maps' adoption of the feature stops short of it taking Waze’s more pronounced redirection notifications, but it’s always useful to receive warnings to potential hazards, especially on a platform as widely used as Google Maps.
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While Google Maps has been busy responding to rivals’ map updates, such as Huawei’s recent update to Petal Maps that brings more extensive route options, Google has quietly been tinkering beneath the hood to embed the Waze-esque warning feature in Google Maps.
Although it hasn't received any official Google announcement, it's all thanks to an eagle-eyed Reddit user, u/SamsungGalaxyPlayer (opens in new tab), who spotted the update, and it appears to work in much the same way as Waze’s proprietary alert system.
When approaching a hazardous crossing, Google Maps displays a notification on the screen showing a user the expected delay due to the interruption, and the knock-on time added to the journey as you wait for a train to pass, or for a blockade to clear.
It sounds simple, but it looks to be a really useful improvement, especially considering the hazards that road users have to contend with daily. It could pair up nicely with an entry on our best Android Auto head unit; possibly, we could even see some compatibility with our best dash cam models, perhaps priming them for ultra-vigilance ahead of dangerous crossings.
As of now, there’s no confirmation on whether the new feature will be available to all users, or just a select few. According to the sub-Reddit, the update is gradually rolling out to some users in the US, but Google could use its comprehensive Waze data from other countries to expand it internationally. The road ahead looks clear for now.
Source: Tom's Guide (opens in new tab)