Google Maps is adding a new Driving Mode, which brings navigation-style traffic warnings and easy redirection to impromptu journeys. The new functionality, which is being enabled for an updated version of Google Maps for Android this week, aims to streamline routes familiar to the driver by guessing where you’re going.
Traditionally, if you wanted Google Maps to tell you about upcoming traffic congestion or road closures, you’d need to set a destination in the app. However if you’re driving somewhere familiar and you already know your preferred route – such as to work or school – then you’re unlikely to go to the trouble of picking that destination before you set off.
Google’s new predictive system means Google Maps can learn from where you drive and when you drive there, and offer up warnings about the future route even if you haven’t told it where you’re going.
So, if there’s a crash on the highway on the route you normally take to the office, the app might be able to warn you about it in enough time to take a different path.
Initially, only Google Maps in English, on Android devices, and in seven countries – the US, United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore – will get Driving Mode, first spotted by Android Police. A Google spokesperson confirmed the functionality and the release countries to Venturebeat, saying users could expect to see it enabled “by the end of the week”.
Exactly how prescient the app will be is unclear at this stage. It’ll know both your home and work locations, as well as spotting if it’s looking like you’re driving to a recently-searched destination, Google says.
“Get information like ETAs, traffic updates, nearby gas prices, and quickest routes to familiar places — like home, work, and recently searched destinations — all from your home screen,” the spokesperson explained.
A separate Driving Mode shortcut will be available for the Android homescreen, or alternatively the feature will be a new option in the Google Maps menu.
No word on if Google will be adding the functionality to Google Maps for iOS at any point soon.