11
Jul
unnamed

The new Google Maps app seems to be positive on balance, but there are always some features that get left behind in big updates. There's the odd caching functionality and the complete lack of My Maps, for example. While it may look at first like the missing traffic widget has taken some functionality with it, that's not quite the case. Google Maps v7 contains a new one-tap directions widget that does much more than the Traffic one did.

Update: It's been brought to our attention that the Directions widget existed before the update under the name Directions & Navigation. The removal of the Traffic widget and the unification of two widgets into one makes quite a bit of sense. Unfortunately, for some reason Google decided to remove the Shortcut icon part of the widget that let you select one of seven icons. If you use a custom launcher, though, you may be able to assign a custom icon anyway.

3 1 2

The Traffic widget would watch a certain address so you could tap on it and see the approximate travel time from the home screen. The Directions widget again lets you enter an address, but the icon itself launches you right into either navigation or the directions screen (there's a checkbox to set what each widget does). The Traffic widget only opened a top-down view of the route – there were no other options.

4 5

The color coding from the traffic widget (green, yellow, and red) is still there, but not on the widget. The colors are shown in the directions screen when you launch the widget. If you don't have navigation set to launch automatically, you will get multiple routes to choose from, each with a color to indicate delays. The Directions widget actually gives you more information in the same number of steps. So do not bemoan the death of the traffic widget. The Directions one is better in almost every way.

Update: The Directions "widget" could be listed under Shortcuts in some launchers, so look for it in Shortcuts instead of Widgets.

[Thanks, Ben Williams, and Raz]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • evolutionx1

    People will still find something to complain about.

    • skitchbeatz

      It doesnt let me pick an icon anymore for directions that lets me know where I'm going. :-( /s

      • JustReboot

        If you have Nova, you can choose whatever icon u like :) I use a text editor icon so I just use text as my icon (ex. 'Go Home')

      • Simon Belmont

        I did like that feature. I used to set different icons for different destinations during a long trip.

        But, I'm not like depressed about it anything. This new widget seems good.

    • louched1

      They took away the ability to pull up a contact's address and give me directions to their place. I now have to pull up the address on my phone, write it down on paper, then type the address into Maps.

    • linjef

      My biggest complaint is that the "open now" button is gone. Search supermarkets, and it's somewhat unintuitive to scroll through the results (swipe left and right on the result) and there're no filters anymore...

      Also, I sort of liked the fine-tune ability to still choose a route after you already chose one. Now you have to back out and start navigation again. ):

  • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

    It's times like these that I wish I lived in a bigger city so I could take advantage of some of these things more. But I can see something like this being super-ultra-handy when traveling...simply place shortcuts to all your hotels and other reservations and get instant directions to them when you're ready to head that way.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Traveling is one use case, though I find it less useful because these locations would usually be in your search history.

      However adding locations you go to all the time at home is hugely beneficial. We visit our parents and friends all the time, so I have no problem dedicating a whole home screen to these. Or if you use a smart launcher that can collect widgets into a folder (does anything do that actually?), it's even better.

      • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

        Good call. Using Nova I now have an icon that when tapped opens maps directly, but when swiped opens a folder of directions shortcuts. So if I'm at some place random I can get directions home or a couple other frequent places.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lee.goldschmidt Lee Goldschmidt

          How did you get swiping to open a folder? I thought that was an Action Launcher thing.

          • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

            With Nova it's fairly straightforward but somewhat hidden. First create the folder on your homescreen and then long press and select Edit. Then, give the folder and swipe action and check the box that says "Swipe to open folder"

          • http://www.facebook.com/lee.goldschmidt Lee Goldschmidt

            That's amazing, thank you so much!

          • EH101

            Is this a Nova Prime only feature? When I edit a folder in the fridge version, it doesn't give me any swipe options. I'd definitely consider that feature a good reason to upgrade to Prime.

          • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

            Must be a Prime feature...Prime is definitely worth it though

          • EH101

            Honestly, I've never seen a good reason to get prime until this. This is the only feature I ever liked from Action Launcher when I couldn't stand the rest of that app. Now, my launcher feels complete. *tear*

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    I loved loved loved the old widget, and after a brief scare that it's gone completely, I see this option is about a million times better. The old widget was useful after one tap, but the 2nd tap pissed me off because instead of launching directions or navigation, it would launch a top down view of the map without the ability to actually turn it into directions or nav.

    One tap navigation in the new widget is absolutely fantabulous.

    One last thing I'd like is the ability to edit these widgets. Though, I wouldn't mind seeing the return of the one-tap to see green/yellow/red statuses and the fastest route duration.

  • Fiorta

    Annoyed they removed the measure lab option.

    • DJ SPY

      Me too! I use that a lot!

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Hrm, my Note II doesn't have it but the Nexus 4 does. Could it be an Android 4.2 thing?

  • Dan Lupescu

    I pretty much only used the "overview" or whatever you call it unless i'm in a completely unknown area. I used it every day to see my traffic to and from work to gauge traffic. In the overhead view you no longer see your arrival time, and I do not like not having that option.

    I may try to hold on to the old maps app for as long as I can, as this is the feature that is most important to me.

    Also I feel like the light blue is way harder to see with my sunglasses on while driving....oh well...

    • Luis

      I used traffic widget to see when to leave home. The color and time info were all I used. Both gone now. Why does Google downgrade their apps??? Why does it try to push its stupid Google+?????

  • S. Ali

    Too bad Google Maps is terrible. Thus far has taken me to three non existent stores.

    • bevardimusg

      Really? It's "terrible"? That word is really overused these days! Come on man, it's far and away the best map software in existence. It took you to 3 non-existent stores? wah wah wah, I bet it's taken you to hundreds of other destinations successfully.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Don't listen to him - he just trolls every day. In fact, I'm just going to ban him. There has never been a useful or positive non-troll comment from S. Ali, and I got real sick of him overtime.

        • bevardimusg

          ah, sweet. Ban away, my good sir! I'm glad to have been a part of this :D

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            He had it coming for a long time now. Every time everyone else wanted to ban him, I resisted. But enough is enough - he does not bring any value to the discussions here and instead adds a lot of negativity.

  • Seiga

    Anyone have the APK lying around as Google likes to stage maps.

    • Mobile Phones Fan

      Previous Android Police article lists 2 different APKs, with 4 mirrors for each.:

      http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/07/09/google-maps-for-android-gets-updated-with-promised-interface-refresh-functionality-enhancements/

      APKs differ depending on device and API level, so choose wisely. Worse case, uninstall it after a few days and re-check the Play Store for a proper, device-specific update.

      .

      • Ashish Singh

        Has anyone else experiencing screen flickering issue while opening maps from maps icon? Just for a sec but its annoying. Also i have navigation and locals icon present. Is it normal ? As on my s3 they are gone but on nexus 4 they are present.

        • Ashish

          I updated from play store

  • andy_o

    A cool feature of the old maps that is not given enough attention, perhaps because it wasn't well known, is that it learned your destinations depending on time and current location. I would open navigation and the history would be sorted with the places I'd be more likely to go next at the top. This seems to be gone in the new maps.

  • AG

    Ok now that everyone's happy and in good mood again, I have this problem I hope someone can help me with, ever since I updated to the new Maps, Google Now defined an unknown place as my home and another one for work! I can't remove them, I checked my Maps app (both online and on the phone) and nothing is there but Google now keeps reminding me that I'm 20 Mins away from home! does anybody here have any idea how to remove these? I don't want to put in my Home and Work address so it'd more helpful to remove them rather than change them to something accurate.

    • Adrian Price

      Got a feeling you can only edit work and home locations not remove them. I may be wrong

      • AG

        you are right, I can only edit them, and it's very annoying since I never assigned any addresses in the first place (I'm paranoid) and now I did everything I mentioned in the comment above but still nothing changes.

    • Mobile Phones Fan

      Last time I checked, you are free to delete your Home and/or Work address(es). After all, adding them was entirely optional to begin with. :-)

      Here's the relevant Support page.:

      https://support.google.com/maps/answer/1626958?hl=en

      .

      • AG

        that's true but only for the web interface, I never assigned any address for either one, so when I check online or from the maps app on my phone there aren't any addresses, but in Google Now if I go to settings -> My Stuff -> Places, then there are 2 addresses which I have no Idea where they came from, I tried deleting data and cache for both Google Now and Maps, I even deleted all of my search history and locations online, but they won't change.

        • Mobile Phones Fan

          I did everything I mentioned in the comment above but still nothing changes.

          You have more options, tho' I'd bet that none -- nor any combination -- of them will provide 100% satisfaction. Can a true paranoid (your word, not mine!) get full use from Google services? ;-)

          As to how the Home and Work addresses got there, that's the easy part: your device settings allow it...not least of which, the fact that you activated Google Now, itself. As Google explains...

          https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2819496?hl=en

          Google Now uses contextual data from your device and from other Google products, plus data from third-party products that you allow Google Now to access.

          Translation: One way or another, you provided your address and other info; Google Now merely parses those data, with your permission. Don't like this feature? Turn it off.:

          https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2824784?hl=en

          Assuming you're unwilling to disable Google Now, then you might consider more selective Settings surgery. For example, you can turn off location -reporting or -history.

          https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2819544?hl=en&ref_topic=2847924

          Personally, I'd start with the edit feature you noted, earlier (Search > Settings > My Stuff): have you tried entering 'none' (blank)? From a coder's perspective, that's the logical move.

          Failing that, just start flipping the relevant switches -- the choice of settings is yours. It's all a matter of your relative desire for anonymity vs. your degree of immersion in Android.

          .

          • AG

            First of all Thank you all info you've given me. secondly, what more options? I searched every option related to Location services but I couldn't find anything and the info in the forums related to this matter wasn't very helpful. Do I get full use out of Google services? No, I never said I want full use or I'm getting full use out of its services, nor I remember blaming Google for anything. I use Google Voice as a matter of fact GV is my main Number and I use everything related to it, G+, search and many other services, Do I use any of Location based services tho, the answer is no, I turn off everything that is either related to location services or photo upload. as I said and I say it again I'm paranoid (yes my words) I figured although I turned off location services but Google still checks my location from time to time, which was pretty annoying so I turned off my GPS ever since. I don't use maps that much either, maybe from time to time to check an address but still with out GPS. so it's not about getting full use, it's about using what you need.

            as to how home and work git there I don't know, true that I said Home is 20 mins from where I live, but it's in a industrial part of town and it's impossible to go there either by foot or car so I could never check in from there, and for home, it says Contra costa, CA and to be honest I never ever been there in my whole life! so I don't think I could set these. as for Google Now, yes I activated it I use the Stocks Card, and the Sports card mostly. so I don't think those cards need Location access. I'm not a super geeky guy but I know how to use my cellphone, I know how to turn off location reporting and history. I also removed the only history it had from me, from my profile which was about 2 years ago. but none of it helps, and changing those to anything else works for a bit but after few hours it changes back to what it was before automatically. I don't blame google but how is possible that in my maps setting on the web home and work addresses are empty but in Google Now it's not?

  • Brenton

    You could do this with the previous version of Google Maps. You could also pick from several icon to show on your home screen. Looks like they removed that.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Thanks, don't know how I didn't know about this and knew about the Traffic widget. I've updated the article accordingly.

      Actually, I know why - in 4.1 and below, it was under Shortcuts instead of Widgets, and I never look there.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    Maybe worth pointing out that in Nova, this shows up under Shortcuts, not widgets. Well, at least for me on CM 10.1.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

      Also, I can't find the Traffic widget anywhere.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        The whole post is about the fact that the Traffic widget went away...

        • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

          I misread this sentence I think:

          The color coding from the traffic widget (green, yellow, and red) are still there, but not on the widget.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It's been clarified.

  • Mike

    And this is why I back up prior APK versions of Apps I love/use a lot. Back to maps 6.14.4 for me!

    • Jas

      Thanks for that version number. I downloaded it (its posted online in multiple places) and replaced the newer Google Maps upgrade. So now I have the Traffic widget once again. And I have saved that installer file on my Note 2. Good stuff Mike.

      • Jas

        And one more observation I forgot to mention: the older Google Maps/Traffic widget v6.14.4 has the transparent top and bottom border bars. The new Maps v7 has opaque top and bottom borders, and that gives a smaller map display.

  • radfreak

    Nokia HERE maps are MUCH BETTER than Google Maps.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Still waiting for the Android client.

    • Mobile Phones Fan

      From my experience, I'd have to disagree. Although Nokia's HERE suite does set itself apart with some very interesting, useful features (e.g.: large-scale map downloads that include offline navigation), I find the overall experience is not consistently better than what I get in Google Maps for Android.

      Firstly, Lumias have given me some horribly misguided directions. And while some aspects of HERE -- like the natural sounding voice assistant -- promise a more sophisticated UX, this is undone by shortcomings elsewhere...no layers means we can't use Satellite and Traffic mode, together?

      Then, there's the way GMaps integrates with Google Search plus the other native apps on your Android device. Maybe things are different in Europe, but in the eastern USA I've had variable luck with HERE searches. Same goes for related (if ancillary) HERE features like points-of-interest and local offers.

      .

  • Alex Rusinov

    What happened to the Alternate Route button during navigation. It was very usefull one click solution while driving to see if there are delays up ahead and choose a new route.

    • Mobile Phones Fan

      It's still there. They've simply removed the space-hogging standalone button.

      Click the Navigation screen info bar (with 'To:' and 'From:' text) for Alternate Routes, plus a sub-menu for Route Options like 'Avoid Highways' and 'Avoid Tolls'.

      http://cdn.androidpolice.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/nexusae0_4_thumb9.png

      This means you no longer need a sub-menu switch for 'Fastest Route'; all alternate routes are shown, in ascending order of estimated travel time.

      Better still, this page employs the usual set of color-codes to indicate expected delays due to roadwork, traffic, etc. As Ryan noted about the widget...

      The color coding from the traffic widget (green, yellow, and red) ... to indicate delays.

      .

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        His point is that once you start navigating, the alternate routes menu is gone, and you have to back out of the active nav session to the previous page to see the routes again. At which point it's not clear if they're up-to-date anymore or are the same as before, when you made the original search.

        • Alex Rusinov

          Exactly. Right now it looks like I have to go back to original screen and it doesn't appear that route times / traffic conditions are updated and only show original estimates.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Damn, I was afraid that'd be the case. That's quite a bummer.

        • Adam Cheung

          Backing out of the active nav session is going to cause quite a few accidents. The ease of use of the alternate routes menu was amazing. One button push to bring up possible routes and then select your new route or stay on the same.

  • Paul Troy

    I don't know how you guys are getting version 7. On my ñ4 , play store keeps giving me version 6.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It's a staged rollout that will go on for several weeks, according to Google. We all have v7 because we posted the APKs earlier.

      • Paul Troy

        Thank you...

  • Ray Bigonesse

    Wow, My Maps is gone? I'm seriously screwed for my vacation next week.

    • Paul Troy

      You can just uninstall the update.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      For now - they promised it'd be back.

  • Trisha

    Thanks. I used the traffic widget a lot and I didn't know about the new shortcut until I read it here.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Same here - a whole lot more people would have seen it if it hadn't been stuffed under Shortcuts.

  • Wazzifer

    I'm still waiting to get this on my Nexus 4 lol.

  • Kevin

    I believe caching is still available. Focus on the area you want and hit the search box. scroll down and there is an option that says make this map area available offline.

  • Chris StG

    The traffic widget would visually highlight where on my route the traffic was bad. This would allow me to choose different routes to avoid the trouble spots. How does this new widget give me that???

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Well, the idea is that it gives you 3 routes and the visual cues to quickly figure out how long it'd take and whether there are any delays. To do what you want, you'd now want to check the Nav box and have it start navigating, then click on route info, which would show you the top-down map with traffic.

  • JPB

    The whole point of a widget is so that you don't have to launch a full blown app to get information. This is yet another head scratching dumb move by Google. It's really making me explore other options for mapping from both Microsoft/Nokia and yes, even Apple.

  • bk

    The directions widget doesn't replace seeing traffic conditions for your commute at a glance from your home screen that the traffic widget provided.

    Now you have to go into the full app. I loved the old widget. I could work until I saw my commute turn green.

  • Jay

    Integrating the two widgets was just dumb. I liked the traffic widget and it allowed me to quickly see traffic without having to open an app. Why do I need to go through the trouble of navigating maps for places I already know how to get too?

    • L.J. Perry

      I'd love to learn this too!

    • D

      I agree. Travelling to and from work on a busy motorway, I know the way, but just want a continually updating and easily accessible traffic view that I can drop in and out of.

  • Brian Sanborn

    In your article you say "If you don't have navigation set to launch automatically..." Mine is set to launch automatically, how do I change that?

  • Bob

    I used to have a handful of the widgets on different widget pages to compare drive times to lots of places (one page of food that I liked, one for airports). Is there any way to get the time to show up in an active widget (or any way to downgrade to the previous version that had that functionality?)

  • Stuart Hunter Vidanage

    What happened to the Green, Yellow and Red dot that indicated the traffic conditions? During navigation, how do I find out the traffic conditions for the road ahead? In the old Google maps, I would push the traffic colored dot and it would overlay the entire journey with traffic all along the way? Ideas?

  • georgech

    The color coding traffic widget is gone now. I hope it gets replaced with a same functionality widget. It was super useful.

  • justinc333

    v7.0.2 does not read the phone's gps and magnetic compass properly on my droid razr maxx hd. it always shows arrow of direction of travel like 90 degress off. very poor at showing accurate location, too. very hard to find My Places. 6.9.0 worked perfectly.

  • scott

    this sucks. nobody likes it. Fire the ass who authorized this update and give back the old version. you have passed off thousands of users big time.

  • Robert T

    This is better how? "You can do the same thing in the same number of steps" .... ahhh no, before you could do it with 0 steps ... it was automatically updated which was the whole point. You have to wonder if the developers and product manager even use their own applications?

  • stan

    The old traffic widget was much better if you already knew the route. It auto updated as conditions changed. Tapping it showed all area traffic not just the predetermined route. Now I have to buy a GPS. Thumbs down, Google.

  • pepsi

    The traffic widget was usable without GPS...

  • eric

    Old traffic widget was still better... while sitting at my desk between calls, I could look at 4 different widgets, clicking on nothing and get a sense of how bad traffic was at that time by both the red/yellow/green, AND the time estimates right there in front of me like a little traffic dashboard. Then, when the wife called, I could say - I'll be home in 43 minutes.... pretty cool stuff.

  • Steve

    From the comments it seems that people disagree pretty strongly with this article - could we get a new article written showing the communities feelings towards this change?

  • Ja Koe

    Poorly written article! Can't even understand what you mean. That's the problem with you tech people - you can't wrote worth a s***!

  • John Wimer

    The old one worked I drive tractor trailer have used the old one for 4 years on old DROID x got this new s4 the only thing I need it to do is navigation and they screwed it up ! THIS new app sucks don't do anything like the old one I Cant Belive Anyone Who Used The Old One Would Think THIS Is Good ! Bunch of brain storms without the brain's

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