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Google Maps update now shows how crowded is public transport, medical checkpoints and more on Android, iOS

These features are available on both Android and iOS versions of Google Maps but for select countries around the world.

Google Maps shows Covid-19 based information.
Google Maps shows Covid-19 based information. (Google)

Google is taking some major steps in improving its Maps app with more Covid-19 information, letting travelers know about checkpoints, how crowded public transportation will be, testing center alerts and more. These features are available on both Android and iOS versions of Google Maps but for select countries around the world.

“Getting from A to B can be more complicated these days. Because of COVID-19, it’s increasingly important to know how crowded a train station might be at a particular time or whether the bus is running on a limited schedule. Having this information before and during your trip is critical for both essential workers who need to safely navigate to work and will become more important for everyone as countries around the world begin to reopen,” said Ramesh Nagarajan, product management director at Google Maps, in a blog post.

Maps now pulls relevant alerts from local transit agencies when users look for directions for a trip that is likely to be affected by Covid-19 restrictions. This feature is coming to Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the US initially.

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Find and contribute crowdedness information for transit lines.
Find and contribute crowdedness information for transit lines. (Google)

In addition, Google Maps now shows driving alerts that notifies a user about Covid-19 checkpoints and restrictions along the route. This means, for instance, while crossing national borders. “You’ll see an alert on the directions screen and after starting navigation if your route is impacted by these restrictions,” adds Nagarajan.

In case the users are navigating to medical facilities or Covid-19 testing centers, the app will now display an alert reminding them to verify eligibility and facility guidelines. This will help avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system. This feature is coming to Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the US for now. Nagarajan states that such alerts are sent only if Google is provided with authoritative data from local, state and federal governments or from their websites. It is working with other agencies to bring this feature to others as well.

Also read: Google Maps makes it easier to share your location using Plus Codes on Android

As for public transportation, Google Maps is making it easier to add crowdedness information for transit lines so others can easily see in the app how crowded the particular travel route is. They can simply look up for directions, tap on transit details and scroll down to see crowdedness predictions and the option to add to their experiences. Like crowdedness information, Google Maps previously introduced insights like temperature, accessibility and security onboard, as well as designated women’s sections in regions where transit systems have them. Now, this is being rolled out globally.

See popular times for a transit station and how busy it is at that moment.
See popular times for a transit station and how busy it is at that moment. (Google)

“To help wheelchair users around the world know before they go, we’ve added more granular accessibility information for people to find and contribute, including where there are wheelchair accessible doors, seating, stop buttons and more,” says Nagarajan.

Also read: Google announces steps it’s taking to help combat Covid-19 in India

The list of ‘transit’ based features also include ability to see how busy and crowded transit stations will be at what time. This will help users plan their trips accordingly without getting exposed to large crowds. They can simply search for a station in Google Maps or tap on the station on the map to see the departure board and busyness data.

All of these features are powered by aggregated and anonymized data from users who have opted in to Google Location History. This feature is turned off by default.