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Google Maps update crafts new navigation notification, offline tools, and other tweaks

Derek Walter | April 6, 2016
Your phone may soon use your daily whereabouts to proactively download offline maps for where you tend to frequent.

Google maps has a rather nice gift package for you inside the latest update.

Even though you really should keep your eyes on the road, the persistent notification that appears when you use navigation is larger and distinctly green, which should make it easier to glance at.

The impact on you: As one of Google’s key pieces of software, Maps is always getting new tweaks and other adjustments  to improve how it looks and performs. Since it’s kind of a moving target, you’ll get the most out of Maps if you stay on top of the persistent changes.

New navigation notification

This may seem minor, but the new notification for navigation is actually a nice change. It's revamped with a catchy, green background (as catchy as green can be, anyway).

The new navigation notification is much easier to spot.

The previous notification had a white background, which made it easy to get lost in a sea of other cards.

Automatic offline downloads

One of the better features of Google Maps is how it can save data offline should you end up in an Internet dead zone. 

offline settings
Google Maps will now get smarter about downloading offline maps for you.

A new option to Automatically download offline areas is here. According to a deeper look at the code strings it appears that Maps will save particular areas based on your own travels. You can toggle this on or off, along with selecting if this will only happen on Wi-Fi. 

Nudges for your timeline

A new toggle in the Notifications section turns on a feature whereby Maps will occasionally ping you to confirm places in your location history.

maps notifications
Maps will ping you for accuracy about your previous travels.

If you go back into your location timeline you’ll see it’s not always accurate about which places you’ve been, as is the nature of location-based tools. So Google Maps now will ask you from time to time to ask if you really were at that new taco stand on Tuesday. 

Related to your location, there’s now a toggle to post a photo to one of your previous reviews. This is handy if you’re trying to elevate your points with Google Local Guides.

Other clues for a future release

As usually happens with a new version of Maps, there’s new content tucked underneath the surface. 

Android Police found there may be some type of live traffic mode coming that would give more accurate and up-to-the-moment information than what’s available now. There’s certainly already a traffic layer, but now that Google owns Waze and is constantly looking at how to better engineer traffic patterns, there may be other ways to bring conditions closer to a real-time view.


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