The update, announced on the official Google blog (opens in new tab), comes at a crucial time in the US, as air temperatures soar. Around 30 million people in the Southwest are bracing (opens in new tab) for extreme heatwaves right now.
Google Maps will display the Air Quality Index (AQI), a guide to how good or not the air somewhere is, as well as advice on which exercise would make sense under those conditions.
The data itself comes from trust government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the PurpleAir sensor network.
Air quality will appear as a layer in Google Maps, so simply tap the icon in the bottom-right corner and add the layer, as you would with traffic details or Covid-19 hotspots.
Preparing for wildfires
Google isn't stopping there, though.
Hot weather in the US means one thing: wildfires. To help people avoid the fires, and stay safe in far-off locations that might be affected by travelling smoke, Google is adding a wildfire layer to Maps, located in the same place as the air quality layer.
"We collaborate closely with partners in the weather and air quality space to surface helpful and authoritative information when you need it most," the company says. "As you head out on hikes, camping trips and other outdoor adventures, we hope these tools help you feel safe and informed so you can enjoy the summer."
Keeping people safe
These updates might seem small and incremental but millions – if not tens of millions – of people use Google Maps everyday for travel.
Adding easily accessible features like these help people access the information that they need when they need, which is especially important during wildfire season in the US when temperatures soar and things can be unpredictable.