I hesitate to say this year is worse than last year, but there are still a lot of things we're adjusting to when it comes to day-to-day life — especially out and about while traveling. We might have been able to hunker down for the last year, but with things like work obligations and family that haven't seen us in ages, we can't stay at home forever. To make it all a bit easier, Google Maps is rolling out a few new tools to help you navigate the "new normal."
Google Maps keeps track of your daily timeline, and though its level of accuracy can feel a little too invasive, it's an excellent tool for tracking vacations, road trips, and any other travel. Timeline is getting a fresh coat of paint, along with a couple of new features to help you track your activity on an even deeper level. The new Insights tab now appears to be rolling out to more users.
Android Go is designed for phones with limited resources and comes with a variety of apps, including Maps Go. The latter offers limited functionality compared to the main version, but doesn't require a lot of resources to run. The fact that it just passed 500 million downloads on the Play Store is a good indication of the platform's success.
While Google I/O gets a lot of attention for Android, Chrome, and Search, Google hasn't rested on its laurels for one of its most successful products: Maps. According to the I/O keynote presentation, over 100 improvements to the system are currently in the works, many of which are relying on new AI developments.
About two years ago, Google added sidebars to its web apps, enhancing its services with miniature versions of Calendar, Tasks, or Keep, and you can even integrate third-party applets. For the first time in ages, a web app has now received a new standard integration — you can now access an almost full-blown version of Maps right inside Google Calendar.
Last week, Google finally made it possible to bring third-party navigation apps to Android Auto without requiring a beta version. The company promoted a list of new driving services coming alongside the change, including TomTom AmiGo. If you're looking to switch away from Google Maps or Waze, a new update to AmiGo adds Android Auto support to display on your car's infotainment system.
Until now, Google Maps and Waze (also owned by Google) were the only navigation apps to be fully supported on Android Auto — others were restricted to the phone interface. This is now changing as popular alternative Sygic becomes one of the first third-party navigation apps to have native support for Android Auto.
Yesterday Google highlighted several great new features coming to Maps, but the company left one little detail out of its announcement: The compass is back. The classic orienteering widget is back by popular demand, and it's about as reliable as ever.
Google Maps is easily one of the company's most successful products. The era of using a paper guide or linear follow-them-or-get-lost MapQuest directions is long over. And though some competing services like Apple Maps might be prettier, Google Maps is king when it comes to functionality, tools, and services integrations. But the best-of-the-best is getting better this summer, and Google is rolling out a handful of new tools and tweaks, like indoor AR navigation, weather and air quality information, grocery pickup integration, and tweaks to reduce your dead-dinosaur-burning car's carbon footprint.