Google is adding more features to their best-in-class maps application for commuters who often mix modes of transportation and face unpredictable delays on their way to work. A new “Commute” tab should come to Android and iOS phones this week that compares alternative routes, stacks multiple-destinations automatically, and uses real-time data to let you know what’s the hold up down the road.
Live Traffic and Transit Data in a Single View
In the most recent version of Google Maps, “Traffic” and “Transit” tabs were separate on the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. The new Commute tab combines the two datasets and shows you all the madness in one screen. With all the green and red during the day, you can pretend year round that it’s Christmas morning.
An added benefit to Android users in the new Google Maps is push notifications “about delays and disruptions on your route as they happen, so you can know about an incident before you get caught up in the delay.”
Google Finally Lets You Bike to the Metro Station
It’s been challenging to plan a spontaneous trip on Google Maps if you, like me, mix modes of travel. Later today, for example, I’m walking to Brookland/CUA, taking Metrorail to Vienna/GMU, and then finishing the trip with my electric moped. That’s walking, subway, and scooter in one trip. Google codes scooter trips as cycling because the speeds are similar. Regardless, I’d have to plan that commute out beforehand using multi-destination directions.
With this new Commute Tab, Google promises to centralize trip planning features it’s added on the margins before. That means including the walks to and from transit stops, and automatically throwing in different travel modes intra-trip. “You can see helpful information about when to leave, and for each leg of your trip: you’ll know if there’s traffic on your drive, when the next train departs, and how long it’ll take to walk from the train station to the office.”
Don’t Run for the Bus Unless You Have To
Google has partnered with thousands of transit agencies worldwide to provide real-time data on traffic and transit. DC commuters know the official trip planners on agency websites rarely describe when vehicles are supposed to arrive and depart more than actually do those things. Already, you could use Google’s data to plan with more accurate information. But, with the Commute tab, travelers won’t have to open Google Maps hours before they leave—the info will be there and calculations made as they leave the house.
Your Music is Now Inside Google Maps
I have mastered the app-switching gestures on my phone because I listen to podcasts or music on all of my commutes. It’s a hassle if I only have one hand available and it’s a dangerous move if I’m behind the wheel. I have to switch to Spotify, find the tunes I want, then change back to Google Maps before the next turn. With the updated commuting features, Google is putting a widget inside Maps so that we can skip to the next song without changing apps.