It’s hard to imagine how an app designed to give you simple travel directions can be improved in any appreciable way. But the people at Google have been hard at work doing so, and have announced new changes for the Maps app that will greatly benefit users.
The changes will help individuals who are regular commuters to better figure out which direction is best for them to take in the morning — particularly those who don’t drive themselves. With more than 35 million separate public transportation trips taking place daily in the United States alone — according to the American Public Transportation Association — the changes to Google Maps will allow individuals to have greater knowledge about accidents, heavy traffic patterns, and other delays that could affect their travels, according to reporting from Gizmodo.
Beyond those changes, however, Google is also making improvements for “mixed-mode” commuters — those who walk or bike part of their way to work, and take the bus or train another stretch of distance. The changes will allow these types of travelers to have better information about potential route concerns or preferable alternatives on any given morning.
Real-time data about delays on commutes will also be made to the Maps app in at least 80 different global regions. For thousands of workers, a bus delay of 15 minutes or more can make-or-break their arrival time, and can mean the difference between being punctual or being late to their jobs. Google Maps will now allow for these commuters to know how late their buses or trains are running, and provide alternative routes if necessary to help them arrive on time.
In some areas, the app will delve deeper into the exact conditions of the bus or train you intend to take. In Sydney, Australia, for instance, commuters will be given the exact number of riders currently on buses on their chosen route — an option that should be coming to other regions across the world in the near future.
Finally, Google is planning on integrating the option of using music programs within the Maps app itself. Doing so will allow users to listen to tunes on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, and more without interrupting use of the Maps app. Want to skip a song or like a track you’re currently hearing? Users can do so within Maps itself, rather than switching between the apps and potentially missing an update on current traffic or route conditions.
These changes — as small as they may seem to some — will enhance users’ abilities to know more about their trips into work, and potential problems that may arise on the way. Certainly, at least for the millions of workers who take public transportation daily, the changes will alert them to more efficient routes as they become available, or as they change from day-to-day.