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Google rolls out Assistant driving mode and COVID related features for Google Maps


Google has been working hard on updating Google Maps over the last few years to provide Android and iOS users with more than just turn-by-turn navigation. Google Maps allows you to explore certain cities to find hotels, bars, restaurants and more. You can also find places to see and things to do in cities that you are planning to visit. And when it comes to the coronavirus, Google Maps has you covered. According to Google, almost 250 new features and improvements have been added to the Google Maps app since the pandemic started. 50 million updates are being made to Google Maps every day. And with the holiday traveling season upon us, Google continues to improve the most popular navigational and mapping app in the world.

Google Maps driving mode starts rolling out today

Two new COVID-19 related features are making their way to Google Maps for both iOS and Android users.  You will soon be able to see the all-time number of COVID-19 cases detected in an area along with links that will take you to local resources that will help you battle the virus. These maps, found in the COVID layer of Google Maps, are color-coded to help you quickly determine how coronavirus is spreading. Using an arrow, the feature reveals whether the number of cases over the last seven days is rising, shrinking, or staying the same. And the page will give you the total number of confirmed cases in that area along with the number of deaths.

If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to maintain a safe distance apart from other commuters while taking the bus or the train, Google Maps will provide you with live crowdedness information to see how mobbed the bus, train, or subway line you plan on riding is. This data is sourced directly from Google Maps users traveling on these modes. And if you’re like most, the pandemic has turned you into a major customer of delivery services in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Brazil and India. If you place an order for delivery through Google Maps, you can receive an estimated time of arrival for your order. You’ll also have access to wait times and delivery fees, and will be able to reorder favorites directly from the app. Google says that once it is safe to start eating at restaurants again, Google Maps will show you the status of your reservation in 70 countries around the world.

Today, Google announced that it has started rolling out Google Assistant driving mode. With this mode enabled, you can use your voice to send and receive calls and texts even while focusing on the road ahead of you. You’ll also be able to hear the headings of texts that are waiting for you to read without having to take your eyes off of the road. In this mode, you will be notified when there is an incoming call and be given the option to pick it up or decline it using your voice. Driving mode makes all of this possible without ever leaving the navigation screen, so you can minimize distractions on the road.

In Driving mode, you can play streaming music from hundreds of providers  including YouTube Music, Spotify, and more. To open driving mode, go to Google Maps and navigate to a destination and tap on the pop-up prompt. Or you can say to your Android phone “Hey Google, open Assistant settings.” Then select “Getting around,” choose “Driving mode” and turn it on.

To make sure that the data Google Maps gives you is accurate and up-to-date, it relies on information gleaned from 170 billion high-definition Street View images from 87 countries, information from Google Maps users, and data from more than 10,000 local governments, transit agencies and organizations.

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