Google Maps updated to help you avoid crowds on your next journey

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Google Maps has received a number of tweaks and updates to help provide travellers with as much information as possible to stay safe during the coronavirus crisis. Just last month, the Californian company made it easier to access updates on how busy businesses would be to help users swerve crowds. And now, Google has gone one step further by providing live information on how busy your transportation links will be – broken down by different times, and by individual carriages too.

As revealed in a blog post, the Google Maps app for Android and iOS will now show how crowded buses, trains and subway lines are around the world. This is based on real-time feedback from Google Maps users, and should help you plan your journey if you need to catch a Tube but don’t want to be on the underground while there are plenty of people about.

Announcing the new updates to Google Maps, VP of Product for Google Maps Dane Glasgow said: “Avoiding holiday crowds might have always been your thing, but this year, we’re making it especially easy for everyone. If you need to take transit, Google Maps can help you more easily social distance with live crowdedness information. On Android and iOS globally, you’ll start seeing how crowded your bus, train, or subway line is right now based on real-time feedback from Google Maps users around the world (wherever data is available).”

This handy new feature isn’t the only way Google Maps will help keep people safe while travelling, with the app’s recently released COVID-19 layer getting further enhanced.

In September, Google Maps launched a brand new overlay view that provides critical information on COVID-19 for all 220 countries the service supports.

The COVID-19 layers show – by region – a seven-day average of new COVID cases per 100,000 people as well as an icon which indicates whether cases are on the rise, and a colour code so you can clearly see which areas are most affected.

And in the next few weeks, Google will be further bolstering this feature by adding extra information such as all-time detected cases per region.

While Google Maps will also provide quick links to COVID resources from local authorities, so you have easy access to information such as local restrictions and nearby testing sites when you’re out and about.

Elsewhere, Google Maps will also be getting another new feature that will make everyday activities during the coronavirus age a bit less stressful.

Launching in regions such as the US, Canada and Germany, Google Maps will offer live status information on takeout and delivery orders.

If you’re not in the mood to cook, Google Maps will help you track the progress of your order, letting you know when you need to pick it up or when to expect it at your doorstep.

This feature is arriving just in time for the Thanksgiving season in the US, which could be a godsend for those Stateside who aren’t keen on a Turkey this year and want something quick and convenient.

Speaking about the new tool, Glasgow said: “We’re rolling out the ability to see the live status of takeout and delivery orders in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Brazil and India when you book or order from Google Maps on Android and iOS.

“Now, you can know when to pick up your food, or when you can expect it to arrive at your doorstep. You can also see expected wait times and delivery fees, and easily reorder your favourites right from the Google Maps app. And when it’s safe to head to restaurants, you’ll soon be able to quickly see the status of your reservation in 70 countries around the world.”

Google also revealed that they’re at long last rolling out the Assistant Driving Mode for Maps, a feature that was announced way back when during I/O 2019.

This new Assistant tool will let you use voice commands to send and receive calls and texts, decline any incoming calls, or play music and podcasts from streaming services.

And this can all be done without ever leaving the navigation screen via voice commands – so you can keep your attention on the road and minimise distractions.

An early preview is being rolled out to Android users in the US right now.

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