Google recently rolled out a few updates to certain Google Maps users that could be helpful to daily commuters and business travelers alike. A new option will allow users to limit connectivity of the app to Wi-Fi only, and a new notification feature will alert users of any mass transit delays.The updates were originally reported by Android Police as a part of their Google Maps v9.31 teardown. If you don't see the options just yet, don't worry, because they are being rolled out in stages to certain users.
To determine if you're one of the lucky few to get the Wi-Fi update, open your Google Maps app on your phone and tap the three bar icon to open the sidebar menu, then tap "Settings." If you have access to the feature, you should see a slider button labeled "Wi-Fi only" toward the top of the screen.
If you slide the feature on, Google Maps may still use a bit of cellular data to work, but it will only be able to use Wi-Fi to perform standard operations. Google Maps has long had an offline feature, which allows users to download "Offline Areas" they can access if they don't have connection. If you enable the Wi-Fi only mode, and don't have access to Wi-Fi, Maps will only work in the offline areas you have set up.
SEE: 5 handy Google Maps tips to make your commute or business trip easier (TechRepublic)
Business users who rely on public transportation will benefit from new notifications that will alert them to delays in mass transit. Users who commute via bus or train will be alerted if their route of choice is experiencing good service, modified service, or significant delays.
This is similar to the same feature offered by Google Now, but allows users to choose which transit lines they take, manually, which could lead to better results. Users must turn on the alerts and configure them to work with the bus or train lines they frequent.
Google Maps is far from the first player in this space, though. Other apps like Citymapper and Transit App have been offering similar services for a while. However, if Google is looking to compete, it could eventually add similar tools offered by these apps such as transit pricing, an interactive stop list, or how often each train or bus is running.
Another potential, useful feature determined by Android Police's teardown is improved notifications around indoor maps. For those who don't already know, Google Maps offers indoor maps of major buildings like airports. With this update, users will potentially be notified when they enter an area with an indoor map and, in terms of an airport, find areas like restrooms or certain gates.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Google Maps is getting new updates in the form of mass transit delay notifications and a Wi-Fi only option to preserve cellular data.
- Using the Wi-Fi only feature means that, in areas with no coverage, Google Maps will rely on the offline area features that users will need to configure.
- The mass transit notification are similar to what is offered by apps like Citymapper, but Google could eventually be adding features to be more competitive.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.