Google has spent plenty of time this year updating its products to be more useful during the pandemic, and some of it's freshly announced Maps features serve that same purpose. Improvements to the COVID layer and live information about how busy buses and trains are will help to keep us safe when out and about, and the much-anticipated Driving Mode is finally arriving in preview.

In the coming weeks, the COVID layer in both the Android and iOS versions of Google Maps will be updated to show all-time cases in a given area, and links to local authority resources will also be served to users. To further aid those traveling around this holiday season, real-time crowdedness information will also be made available for many transit routes so you can see how busy your bus or train is going to be and maybe make the choice to wait for the next one or take a walk instead.

Takeout food has become one of life's few pleasures in places where bars and restaurants are currently closed, and in regions where you can order directly through Google Maps (US, Canada, Germany, Australia, Brazil, and India), live status updates are coming. Tracking will tell you when to expect your order, and info about wait times and delivery fees is also being added. When eating out becomes an option again, restaurant reservation statuses will get the same treatment.

Google Assistant Driving Mode has been a long time coming, but it's finally being rolled out in preview to users in the US today. The simplified navigation mode focuses on voice control so you can keep your eyes on the road, allowing you to make calls and listen to content while your map remains on the screen. If you start navigating to a location, a pop-up should ask if you want to try it out. You can also manually turn it on in the Getting around > Driving mode section of your Assistant settings.