One of the benefits of living in the smartphone era is the sheer amount of convenient software solutions available at the push of a button. If you need food delivered to your home, just download an app. If you need a ride, pop open Uber or Lyft and summon a driver. Or, if you're navigating yourself, open Google Maps to get directions, distance and even reviews for the places you're going.
Google Maps, specifically, is a game-changer for many smartphone users. In previous years, this handy app was the best way to get where you needed to go in the shortest amount of time.
Now, Google has loaded the program with so many features that Maps can effectively help you plan an entire trip -- complete with directions, ETAs, recommendations and traffic reports.
But the features don't stop there. Google is continuing to develop its Maps app with a variety of useful features, and a recent update is pushing several real-time driving enhancements to users across the world.
For the first time, you'll be able to see how fast you're going, report accidents and hazards, and even let other users know if you're in an area with a speed trap. Here's what you need to know to get your hands on Google Maps' latest updates.
How does Google Maps track my speed?
Google Maps is rolling out several key updates in the latest version of its famous app. These new features are designed to enhance the experience of drivers by providing them feedback on their speed, as well as some user reporting options for traffic, hazards and speed traps.
For folks using the app while on the road, they'll now see a real-time speedometer right on the app's display window. This readout is in miles per hour format and is designed to help prevent users from speeding while they're glancing at their device for directions.
It also serves the express purpose of feeding into the app's own algorithms, which will be able to generate more accurate arrival times, traffic predictions and routes.
What else is new with Google Maps?
Maps now includes a feature that lets users report traffic incidents -- such as an accident, road hazard, or gridlock. The reporting function can be accessed right from the app's main screen with a new "speech bubble" icon that allows users to attach their observations to their trip.
Google will take this user-reported data into consideration while calculating routes and ETAs, which helps Google Maps become even more accurate as users play with the feature.
On top of reporting road hazards, the function allows users to report speed-trap cameras and mark their locations.
For anyone who's ever gotten a speeding ticket from one of these sneaky spycams, you'll now be able to see where they're located on a map. This will also allow Google to more accurately calibrate its predictions since speed-trap cameras tend to maintain a consistent speed in the areas they're placed in.
How can I get these new features on Google Maps?
Currently, these features are being "rolled out" to existing Maps users on an intermittent basis. This means the features are trickling down to users individually rather than all at once -- so don't worry if you don't see it just yet!
If you want to check that these new features have been enabled, open the Google Maps app and click on the three lines icon in the upper left corner and tap on Settings. Scroll down this page until you see a setting that says Driving Options.
If this menu option isn't visible, it means the feature hasn't rolled out to your device yet. If you do see it, tap it to open the next menu, then tap on Speedometer to enable the speed tracking feature.
If you see Driving Options in your settings, that means the real-time reporting feature has been added as well.
All you need to do to make use of this function is to get directions as you would normally. While you're driving, a new option will appear on your map that looks like a speech bubble with a + sign inside. Pressing this button will open the report field.
Just make sure to use the menu options to specify exactly what you're reporting, like an accident for example. If you're reporting a speed trap, simply select Mobile Speed Camera as the reason for your report.
Not only are these new features useful, but they'll help Google's algorithm get even better at predicting traffic patterns and directions. Not that it needs much help with that though. After all, it already knows everywhere else you're going.
If you want more info about Google Maps, or just want to see if you can get your hands on these new features, tap or click here to check out our download page.
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