Google Maps gets a bunch of Apple Watch, iPhone App updates
There is no doubt that Apple Maps offers the best user experience when it comes to iPhone and Apple Watch integration. Still, many people prefer Google Maps for several reasons, and it looks like Google is doing what it can to make its popular Maps app work even better for Apple users.
Rubén Lozano-Aguilera, product manager for Google Maps, recently shared several enhancements to the company’s mapping service, as well as specific improvements for its iOS and watchOS apps.
The first of these is that Google will finally allow you to browse directly from your Apple Watch. It’s rather odd to see this feature coming in 2022, given that Google Maps actually had a more functional Apple Watch app in 2015 which it discontinued two years later.
Google Maps returned to the Apple Watch in 2020. However, it lacks the same navigation capabilities as its first-generation predecessor. While both versions offered shortcuts to quickly take you to your designated “Home” or “Work” locations, the previous version also provided a list of the most recent places you’ve visited so you can return to them quickly. Instead, the new watchOS version of Google Maps let you designate up to three Google Maps “shortcuts” on the iPhone, but excludes recent destinations. More importantly, you can’t actually to start up navigation from your Apple Watch; you still need to pull out your iPhone for this.
Google said that would change in an update that should start rolling out in a few weeks, though it’s vague on the specifics. It only notes that “you won’t need to start navigating from your iPhone anymore”, although it looks like your destinations will still be limited to the five predefined shortcuts.
The app will also receive a “Take Me Home” complication that will automatically open Google Maps on your Apple Watch and begin a route to your home.
More importantly, it looks like Google Maps will become a standalone watchOS app, meaning you’ll be able to use it from your Apple Watch even when your iPhone isn’t nearby – assuming you have a model cellular or Wi-Fi. , of course.
Siri, Spotlight and Shortcuts
Google Maps also finally integrates directly into Spotlight. You will soon see Google Maps results when searching for information from global search on your iPhone or iPad.
This will also include using Apple’s Shortcuts feature to allow you to call directions using Siri. It’s not native Siri integration, as Apple doesn’t yet provide a Siri framework for third-party mapping apps, but it should let Google Maps users get the job done.
You’ll be able to set up shortcuts to search Google Maps using voice commands like “Hey Siri, get directions” or “Hey Siri, search Google Maps.” Shortcuts support is expected to arrive “in the coming months”, while Google promises “enhanced Siri search functionality” will arrive later this summer.
Finally, Google Maps is getting a new pinned travel widget that will let you access travel from your Go tab right from your iOS home screen. The widget will include additional information such as estimated time of arrival, next departure in transit, and even suggested routes for driving.
Beyond Apple-specific improvements, Google Maps is also adding more toll road detail, including estimated toll prices to your destination, so you can make an informed decision on whether to take the road. the most expensive route.
Google says it will take into account factors such as the cost of a toll pass compared to other payment methods, the day of the week, and even the specific time you’ll drive through it. This will be rolled out on Android and iOS for almost 2,000 toll roads in the US, India, Japan and Indonesia.
Although Google Maps has a long way to go before it catches up with Apple Maps‘ incredible visual enhancements, it adds valuable details to the navigation experience, including traffic lights and stop signs, road outlines, and more. buildings and even road shapes and medians in some cities.
This is an area where Google is catching up with Apple, which started adding some of these features last year in iOS 14, and has now firmly established itself. Still, Google Maps fans will appreciate the additional details, which should start rolling out in select countries in the coming weeks, and will also appear in Google Maps on CarPlay.