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Google Maps Navigation Helps You Avoid Traffic

David Gilbert

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Google Maps Navigation Helps You Avoid Traffic

The reasons for having a dedicated sat nav in your car have long been under threat as smartphone screens and navigation apps have become increasingly sophisticated.

Google has now announced an update to its free Maps Navigation app, which will give users live traffic updates and re-route you accordingly. While the version currently available is only in a beta version, it has both North American and European traffic updates available. Google claim that 35 million miles are driven each day by motorists using Maps Navigation.

Navigation would previously calculate the fastest route automatically when switched on, without taking traffic conditions into account – though it would calculate alternate routes such as the shortest routes or ones using the motorway. With the new version however, the routing algorithms will also apply Google’s knowledge of current and historical traffic to select the fastest route from those alternates.

The updated Google Maps Navigation for is available today including the updated traffic information in North America and Europe.

Source: Google Blog

Kaplan

March 8, 2011, 10:12 pm

Hmm, it's definitely had live traffic info (and used this in calculating its routes) for a while now - not really sure what's new here :-/

Gk.pm

March 8, 2011, 11:53 pm

Now if only Google (or their UK partner) paid any attention to the reports users send in.

I've sent a report over an year ago for a road that's been marked unsuitable for motor vehicles. It's still marked pending and Google of course happily routes everyone through there. Keep coming across very confused drivers trying to get out with their cars intact.

Fortunately TomTom takes their job more seriously.

Hans Gruber

March 9, 2011, 12:51 am

What happens when everybody starts to use the fastest route their SatNav tells them?

Anyhow, I got updates to Navigation and Google Maps today. I've noticed Google have updated Satellite view for London and it seems to offer less detail now than before. And it's a bugger to run, at least using Firefox whatever-version-it-is-i'm-running. Have yet to try updated Android apps. Hopefully they fare better.

ChaosDefinesOrder

March 9, 2011, 12:58 am

@Kaplan: your question is answered just beneath the picture in the article!

rav

March 9, 2011, 3:06 am

@Gk.pm
You do realise that TomTom navigation isn't a free service? When your bread and butter is selling navigation devices you'd be a fool not to take it "more seriously".

As a free extra on Android I personally think Maps Navigation is pretty awesome.

Gk.pm

March 9, 2011, 4:49 am

@rav
Actually TomTom on the web is free, but yes I know it's meant to generate interest in their apps/devices. I mentioned them because it's still what most drivers use, fortunately so or I'd be operating a tow service instead of commenting on TR :-)

Re Google's service, their UK map operations are run by Teleatlas, who also field the customers reports.
I'd think Teleatlas, being a large company dedicated to mapping and paid for their service from Google's $29 billion revenue, would try to be a bit more enthusiastic at their core job.

But, to their defence, Google appears to be ditching Teleatlas in a growing number of markets, opting to provide their own information. The interesting question for the future will be if this data will be of higher quality than the one from Navteq/Ovi Maps, which Microsoft just gained from their Nokia deal.

Actually, Bing maps has become quite interesting lately and I would suggest all to try out their birds-eye view. Incidentally they also have my problem road correctly marked as unusable and allow direct reporting of problems, not via a third party, so they seem to be doing something right.

Hamish Campbell

March 9, 2011, 12:56 pm

errr...where is this available?

I read the google blog entry and it has a link to 'real time traffic data' which shows a map with traffic lights of the places you can check out. It seems there are a number of CITIES in europe where this is available.

If I zoom in then, out, I start seeing motorways for the UK, France, Italy and Hungary, and with a bit in Finland. Perhaps Stockholm in Sweden should be there but is not working it seems.

I wouldn't exactly call that 'Europe', rather 'A few countries in europe'. OK so I'm in Denmark which isn't that big, but if you've missed out Germany and Spain your kinda taking the piss.

Hopefully I've got that wrong....anyone found some better info?

Kevin

March 9, 2011, 3:26 pm

Anyone actually used this? I'm finding that it doesn't re-route on the fly - in fact; this morning when I was stuck in traffic it only suggested a better route once I started the app up again i.e. it seems to only consider the traffic when first selecting a destination.

Kaplan

March 9, 2011, 4:16 pm

@Chaos: that paragraph doesn't really answer my question. My point was that for (at least) months the routing has taken into account live traffic info - the live traffic has been clearly reflected in the predicted journey times. The "alternative route" button gave the suggested route and two possible other ones, each taking traffic into account, just as in the picture in the article. So what has changed?

Kaplan

March 9, 2011, 4:19 pm

@Kevin: I suspect this is by design - I would like at least to be prompted before being re-routed. If you press the alternative routes button then it re-calculates your options without needing a full restart of the app.

Kevin

March 9, 2011, 5:59 pm

@Kaplan: I agree that it should prompt to re-route but if it doesn't even do this then deciding at the beginning of a journey is no use because (as happened today) the traffic only got bad 45mins in. I did the alternative route option manually when I saw the traffic jam but was too late to avoid it - this is what the app is now meant to do :-)

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