Google has been placing COVID-19 reminders, warnings, and information in many of its services for some time now. You can't use a Google service without being reminded to wear a mask, or of where to go for screening. It's even added various tips to Maps, including where to get takeout during the pandemic. With a possible new overlay feature, it looks like we might soon be able to add Google Maps to our list of COVID tracing apps.
Google has been teasing and working on a dark theme for Maps for well over a year, but it's yet to come to full fruition. It looks like that's about to change, as app sleuth Alessandro Paluzzi and 9to5Google have found evidence that Google might be close to release dark mode to the public.
Earlier this summer, Google Maps started displaying traffic lights for some users. Although that appeared to be an experimental feature, as none of us at AndroidPolice could get them to show up, they're finally rolling out widely.
Google will usually adjust its Maps speed limit support for a handful of countries every so often. Last we saw, Google had upgraded it in nine regions, but downgraded it in nine others. This time around, many more regions are involved — 18 regions, including the US, have had their speed limit coverage improved, but a whopping 100 others have had theirs worsened.
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We've taken a look at open source alternatives to Gmail and Google Calendar, but those are digital lifestyle staples that don't require a whole lot of smarts to work. What about something more complex and data driven, like mapping? Believe it or not, there are open source alternatives to Google Maps out there.
I won't make you wait for the big "but" here, though: none of these solutions offer the same feature set you get with Google Maps. As sad as it is, Google's advanced traffic detection and point-of-interest data are only possible when you have an install base counting in the billions.
GPS has made it possible to always know where you are. Actually, scratch that—not always. GPS can be flaky in dense urban areas, but Google has a solution. The Live View AR feature from walking navigation is now available as an option to calibrate your location and orientation. The option is a bit hidden, though.
When navigating via Google Maps, traffic lights are one of the biggest unknowns and something Google won't warn you about — I could sing a song or two about this as I once caused an accident due to a red light I oversaw at an unfamiliar, complicated crossroads (thankfully, no one got hurt). It looks like Google recognizes this potential hazard and wants to help people navigate unknown streets better, as the company is working on adding traffic lights information in Maps.
Google Maps is far more than a tool we use just for finding our way around, and there's a huge discovery component to it as well — who hasn't scrolled around Maps looking for a new restaurant to try out? And while the standard overhead view is plenty useful, sometimes you want to really immerse yourself in a place with a first-person Street View experience. So far, though, navigating Maps in Street View has come at a price, as you wouldn't see those discoverable markers for businesses and points of interest. Now that's finally changing, as Google deploys an AR-style overlay that bring place markers to Street View.
Although Google Maps still doesn't have dark theme support, a workaround as been spotted that could give us a glimpse of what the feature will look like when it does arrive. Some searches in the Google app load their own stripped-down Maps view, and if you can get the app to work in dark theme on your phone, that Maps view is dressed up in a snazzy dark theme, too.
Google Maps has picked up a new location-sharing interface in the last week or so. Precipitated (we think) by an app update, the new interface updates the menu's Material aesthetic to be a bit more modern, with a snazzy new floating action button and more detailed information at a glance.