Google has just announced a handful of new features for Maps at its I/O developer conference, including a new Safer routing feature that takes into account road, weather, and traffic conditions when picking out directions, plus support for more bike lanes (probably as part of its increased street-level details), and a new "area busyness" feature that builds upon the existing busyness indicators, expanding them out from individual locations onto the map itself.
Google also announced its Eco-friendly routes — again. The company previously announced that feature back in March. However, some tweaks to Live View are also coming to show more prominent street labels and cues to better orient you spatially in relation to things like your home or work locations.
Safer routing is all about reducing "hard-braking moments," with the company aiming for the feature to reduce up to 100 Million "sudden brakes." That's an odd metric, but still an admirable goal, and definitely something that can come in handy for those that live in areas subject to extreme weather or particularly annoying traffic problems. Though Google usually loves to talk up the AI-enhanced nitty gritty of these sorts of features, technical details are lacking for now.
"Area busyness" will give you an idea of how packed certain public areas or neighborhoods are — especially useful in this Covid era where we may not want to cram into parks or streets too closely for risk of getting sick. The feature will give you a geographic indicator of the affected areas, and the degree of any issue. The feature will roll out globally "in the coming months," and respects user privacy.
Basic mapping will also get some slight tweaks to better highlight businesses and locations based on time of day. For example, you probably don't need to see that breakfast-only joint on the map at 10 PM, and it sounds like Google will more aggressively rotate the locations it highlights.
The new 170 km of bike lane support is likely tied to the increase in street map detail Google previously announced earlier this year, which shows details like road widths to scale, plus crosswalks, urban trails, pedestrian islands, and other geographic features more accurately.
For more information on Google's announcements at I/O, keep an eye on our front page.