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navigation

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[Update: Deezer integration goes live] Waze adds 7 partners to its in-app music player, including Pandora, Stitcher, and TuneIn

Listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks while driving can make or break your commutes and long road trips. Engaging audio content keeps you entertained and alert, but you don't want to get your eyes off the road to switch between your navigation app and music app simply to skip ahead or rewind. This is why Waze added Spotify integration last year, and is now expanding its in-app player to seven more partners.

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Google Maps will use your camera to determine your location more accurately

Have you ever come out of the subway running late for a meeting with no clue which way you're supposed to go? Sure, Maps will tell you how to get to your appointment, but only if it's aware of where you are and what direction you're facing. Sometimes it "thinks" it knows these, even though the data it's being fed is inaccurate. You're then in for some impromptu outdoor trivia: Try to figure out which path to follow by checking if the blue dot is moving in the same direction you're supposed to. If it's not, it probably means your compass is not calibrated, so you can start frenetically shaking your phone in an 8 shape to see if it'll eventually point the right way.

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Google Maps is finally getting that crazy AR walking navigation, testing with Local Guides

Back in May, Google showcased an innovative navigation system that leveraged the phone's camera to provide augmented reality GPS guidance. Although the demo was very promising, the feature wasn't expected to be immediately available, even for testing. However, the company is now letting select people, mostly Local Guides with access to a preview version of Maps, use the feature, and David Pierce from the Wall Street Journal was among the lucky ones to give it a first try.

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Speed trap icons and vocal warnings are rolling out on Google Maps for some users

For the longest time, users have been bemoaning the lack of Waze-like reports on Google Maps, even though the two apps are technically part of the same company. Things started moving in the right direction when we spotted crash and speed trap reports in Google Maps in November, then again in December, though the feature hasn't rolled out to everyone yet and is still a little flighty in the way it works. Until now however, that meant only reporting something, and not seeing what others reported. But development is on track as one tipster let us know that he can now see speed traps on the map.

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Google Maps' Waze-like incident reporting shows up for many, doesn't work yet

Google Maps' incident reporting feature has been a long-time coming. After the company bought Waze in 2013, everyone thought Google Maps would get its popular crowdsourced reporting feature in no-time, but years have passed it's only a few months ago that we started seeing hints of it in our teardowns of Maps. The first real signs started showing up in the app after that, with users spotting confirmation prompts for reported incidents and, recently, a button to report crashes and speed traps. Now, the latter is showing up for many under a new look, but it doesn't work at all.

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Google is testing crash and speed trap reporting in Maps

Ever since Google bought Waze, we've been waiting for some of its more popular features to worm their way into Maps. A few months back, we got a hint from an APK Teardown that Google was preparing to add incident reports to Maps. Now, this feature seems to be appearing for at least some Maps users.

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Pixel 3's 'gesture' navigation and new multitasking UI can be disabled — but it'll cost you the Pixel Launcher

Google decided to change things up when it came to navigating around Android, starting with Pie. Although the new "gesture" system was an optional change for updated devices, it's a mandatory part of the Pixel 3 experience.  Thankfully for those that dislike Google's forced change to navigation — which has none of the space-saving advantages of iOS' gesture system — the folks at XDA have already figured out how to disable it, but you'll have to give up the Pixel Launcher.

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Samsung's new gesture navigation solution actually looks quite promising

Gesture navigation is considered by some to be an important innovation in smartphone UX, not least because it removes the nav bar and allows for more content on the display. It's not easy to get it right, but Apple has done a pretty good job of it and Android OEMs like OnePlus have also had a good go (let's not waste our time discussing Google's Pixel abomination). Samsung's recently announced Galaxy A7 offers another new take on gesture nav, and it actually seems pretty good.

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[Update: Maybe not] The Pixel 3 will only have gesture navigation, with no option for standard nav buttons

As we all know by now, Google's implementation of gesture navigation is pretty lackluster. Given that it still takes up the same amount of space as the regular nav bar, it doesn't have any real benefits and just makes things confusing. You'll probably be disappointed to hear that the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will ship with gesture navigation, and there won't be an option to use the standard three-button layout that's been part of Android for years.

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Facebook adapting its app's navigation icons to your personalized usage

It's no secret that plenty of apps/services take your usage data and personalize your experience with it, but Facebook is trying something new with that information. The company is preparing to personalize its app's navigation bar with nav bar icons depending on how much it deems you need each one.

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