When the pandemic first struck, Google Maps struggled to stay up to date with temporary business closures and vital coronavirus information, but that has changed over recent months, complete with a new COVID-19 layer. The service has become one of the most reliable resources for information on business closures, busyness, and finding takeaway options. To make moving around even safer, places' busyness and COVID-19 information will now be even more prominent in the app. There are also improvements to Live View, giving you more details on businesses without ever leaving the AR mode.
Google's busyness information has become one of the most popular features this year, with adoption rising about 50 percent between March and May. The company is hard at work to expand the features to more places, including outdoor areas like beaches and parks and essential places like grocery stores, gas stations, laundromats, and pharmacies.
In the future, busyness information will be displayed right on the map, even without searching for a place. It'll be indicated by a red circle around businesses and areas, helping you gauge how many people are currently there. When you pull up directions, you'll also get to see information on busyness right on top of the map, below the transportation selection carousel.
Additionally, Google has added a new "Health and safety" section in listings that shows you which measures are in place: mask mandates, reservation requirements, temperature checks, and so on. Google uses its automated calling service Duplex and Maps tools to survey owners on this, but the company will soon allow users to update or add information themselves.
Live View, the feature that helps you navigate the map via AR, will soon let you get information on businesses you point the camera at. Google says that you can use it to quickly learn if a store is "open, how busy it is, its star rating, and health and safety information if available" — basically, all of the information that was previously only accessible in the regular map or street view.
The new Live View capabilities will come to Android and iOS devices "in the coming months," while the on-map busyness indicators "will soon be available" on mobile and desktop, both internationally. You can get the latest version of the Android app on the Play Store or over at APK Mirror.