A new Google Maps update is rolling out today. For most people, this version might not have a big impact quite yet, but it's introducing a new feature for some high-level members of the Local Guides program. Those that qualify will be able to create custom lists of saved places. For the rest of us, there's a new notification for local traffic and voice commands to avoid toll roads, highways, and ferries. There are also a few new things to check out in a teardown, including integration with another service, another tease about ordering food, and more.
- Traffic nearby notifications
- Voice commands to avoid tolls, ferries, and highways
- Lists (only for Local Guides level 4+)
Traffic nearby notifications
The Notifications screen under Settings has a new option turning up near the bottom of the list. This one is named "Traffic nearby," not to be confused with the "Traffic from nearby events" toggle a couple spaces above it. The description explains that enabling this will produce notifications with the traffic conditions surrounding you.
This feature first appeared in a teardown of v9.32. It's a pretty straight-forward feature, but you can check out that post to see some of the messages that might pop up when Maps has something to tell you.
Create lists of places (Local Guides 4+)
Google has been promising perks for Local Guides since the program first launched, including early access to some new features and products. The Google Trips app is probably the most notable example, rolling out just a few months ago. The latest addition is a way for users to create custom lists with places they want to save. It's a lot like the "saved" list (a.k.a. starred) under Your Places, but with the added advantage that entries can go into your own custom lists. There are three default lists right from the start: Favorites, Want to go, and Starred places.
Lists are currently exclusive to level 4 Local Guides, but will surely become available for everybody after they've been thoroughly tested. Members of the program received an email (pictured below) with a tease for lists and an explanation that they would be receiving early access. If you want to join the club, it's time to start writing those reviews, answering questions, and submitting pictures.
Voice commands to avoid tolls, ferries, and highways
A lot of Maps users aren't happy that each time a new navigation is started, it automatically starts with the avoidance features disabled. In other words, if you don't want to deal with ferries, toll roads, or highways during your trip, those choices must be made each time.
Many users would like to have these settings persist for each new session; unfortunately, that's not happening yet. There's a new stand-in that may turn out to be almost as good. To use it, just tap the microphone and speak one of the key phrases:
"Avoid toll roads"
Maps will give audio responses to confirm you will be rerouted. Should you change your mind, simply say the phrase with the word "allow" instead of "avoid" and your route will be recalculated.
Ok, it's not quite what everybody wanted, but it's hard to deny that it's quick to use and will get the job done most of the time. As a bonus, since this is a voice command, it's easy to use while driving.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.
Google employs a number of services in the Maps app, even purchasing Zagat's in the interest of incorporating its reviews into the database. A new string shows the service TrustYou is probably going to join the list, this time for hotel reviews.
<string name="TRUSTYOU_TOOLTIP">Review summaries provided by TrustYou.</string>
If you're not familiar with TrustYou, you're probably not alone. It's the type of company that performs data mining and analysis for other companies. The string explains rather clearly that it will provide review summaries for Google Maps. Judging by TrustYou's promotional material, it seems data will be sourced from around the Internet. However, as far as users are concerned, I would expect the end result to look a lot like the short blurbs topping the review section of Play Store detail pages.
Just last week, a teardown revealed plans to introduce online food orders to Google Maps. A new string doesn't answer any particular question so much as it confirms a menu (probably containing pictures) will be available from each supported restaurant. That probably means the experience will be about as simple as ordering from the menu at Denny's – you can just point at something and you'll be able to eat it 15 minutes later.
<string name="GALLERY_FOOD_AND_DRINK_TITLE">From menu</string>
More data verification questions and surveys
It seems like most of the updates to Maps have included new ways to ask users to either contribute new information or verify contributions from other people. This version is no different. In fact, there is a lot of new text, and some of it is reminiscent of the new Crowdsource app that launched just yesterday.
The first group is pretty short, asking only if a given translation of a name is accurate.
<string name="VERIFY_TRANSLATION_QUESTION">Is this %s name correct?</string>
The second group is a little more demanding. It includes a series of tasks that might be suggested or assigned to a contributor, like looking up the business hours for someplace nearby, improving maps, and looking up information for the details card (e.g. website, phone number, etc...). It's basically all things you might be able to do while standing around and waiting to meet somebody.
<string name="UGC_TASK_CARD_DISMISS_PLACE">Don't show this place</string>
<string name="UGC_TASK_CARD_PENDING_CONTRIBUTIONS_NOTICE">You have pending contributions.</string>
<string name="UGC_TASK_CARD_VIEW_PLACE_DETAILS">View place details</string>
<string name="UGC_TASK_N_OF_M_TEXT" formatted="false">%d / %d</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_ACCESSIBILITY_FILTER_NOT_SELECTED">%s not selected</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_ACCESSIBILITY_FILTER_SELECTED">%s selected</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_ACCESSIBILITY_N_OF_M" formatted="false">%d out of %d</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_ADD_PHOTO_DESCRIPTION">Help others see what this place is like</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_DISCARD_DIALOG_KEEP_EDITING_BUTTON">Keep editing</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_DISCARD_DIALOG_TEXT">Discard the changes you made?</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_IMPROVE_MAP_TITLE">Improve the map near you</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_MAP_VIEW_GET_MORE_PLACES">Get more places</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_NEXT_PLACE_BUTTON">Next place</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_PLACE_SHEET_CARD_SUGGEST_EDIT_LINK_TEXT">Suggest an edit</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_POST_SUBMIT_DIALOG_DESCRIPTION">The new info you discovered helps improve this neighborhood's map</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SEARCH_BUTTON_DESCRIPTION">Use Google Search for hints</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SEE_PLACES_BUTTON">See places</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SUGGEST_EDIT_BUSINESS_HOURS_DESCRIPTION">When is this place open?</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SUGGEST_EDIT_BUSINESS_HOURS_PLACEHOLDER">Add hours</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SUGGEST_EDIT_CATEGORY_DESCRIPTION">What kind of place is this?</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SUGGEST_EDIT_CATEGORY_PLACEHOLDER">Choose a category</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SUGGEST_EDIT_PHONE_DESCRIPTION">Can you find out the phone number?</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SUGGEST_EDIT_PHONE_PLACEHOLDER">Add phone number</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SUGGEST_EDIT_WEBSITE_DESCRIPTION">What's the official website for this place?</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_SUGGEST_EDIT_WEBSITE_PLACEHOLDER">Add website</string>
<string name="UGC_TASKS_TAP_PLACE_CALLOUT">Tap a place to see what's needed</string>
The final group leans toward simple verification questions, like asking if an address is correct or if the business has moved or shut down. It's fairly likely that a negative response will prompt users to enter corrected information.
<string name="FACTUAL_CONTRIBUTIONS_NOTIFICATION_OPT_OUT_MESSAGE">You're getting occasional suggestions for places that need info on Google Maps.</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_CONTRIBUTIONS_NOTIFICATION_OPT_OUT_TITLE">Add or confirm info</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_CONTRIBUTIONS_NOTIFICATION_SETTINGS_SUMMARY">See places that need your help to provide missing info</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_CONTRIBUTIONS_NOTIFICATION_SETTINGS_TITLE">Add or confirm info</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_ADDRESS_QUESTION">Is this the right address?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_CATEGORY_QUESTION">Is this a good description of this place?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_CLOSED_QUESTION">Is this place permanently closed?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_HOURS_QUESTION">Are these hours correct?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_MOVED_QUESTION">Has this place moved somewhere else?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_NAME_QUESTION">Is this name correct?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_OPEN_QUESTION">Is this place still in business?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_PHONE_CALLOUT">You can call to verify %s</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_PHONE_QUESTION">Is this the right phone number?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_PRIVATE_QUESTION">Is this a private place like someone's home?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_PRIVATE_TITLE">Place type</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_SPAM_QUESTION">Does this place seem like spam?</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_THANKS_DESCRIPTION">Your answers help Google Maps verify the info and improve this neighborhood's map</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_WEBSITE_CALLOUT">You can visit the link to verify %s</string>
<string name="FACTUAL_MODERATION_WEBSITE_QUESTION">Is this the official website for this place?</string>
That appears to be it for this update, but if you see anything else of interest, let us know.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.
- Shaun McLane,
- Kyle Smaagard,
- Oleksii Kutuzov,
- and everybody else that sent in tips.
- Google Support