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Google Maps just got a new navigation feature you’ll definitely want to try

Published Jul 8th, 2020 7:31AM EDT
Google Maps Directions
Image: Google

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  • Google Maps directions might soon include a nifty new feature that’s already available on Apple Maps.
  • Some users have already started seeing traffic lights icons in the Android version of the app, both in navigation and driving mode.
  • Apple rolled out the traffic lights feature in Apple Maps in iOS 13, and it’s already available in directions and navigation experiences.

Apple launched Apple Maps a few years ago to cut its reliance on Google services, at a time when Google Maps was a must-have addition to the iPhone home screen. Apple Maps has evolved considerably from its first years. As the built-in, default navigation app on iOS, it’s growing into a decent alternative to Google Maps, although Google still offers a richer Maps experience. Google also owns Waze, another popular navigation app on Android and iPhone, and Google has been working on achieving a sort of feature parity between Google Maps and Waze. Between them, Google Maps and Waze can satisfy most needs, whether you need driving directions, commuting connections, sightseeing suggestions, or crowdsourced data about the journey ahead. Apple Maps is hardly ready to offer all of that in a single package, but it might still surprise users with a few features. And Google Maps is about to get a tiny feature that’s already available in Apple Maps.

Apple started showing traffic lights inside Apple Maps a year ago, and that’s a feature that Google had not developed for Maps. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the addition of traffic lights offers drivers extra information about the upcoming drive, and it might be a feature some people want to be able to access.

Google Maps
Google Maps screenshots show traffic lights icons in Android version of the app. Image source: Droid-Life

It turns out that Google has been working on the feature as well, and some Google Maps users have started seeing it pop up. As seen in the screenshot below, via Droid-Life, the traffic lights will pop up at intersections while navigating, but also while browsing the map. You might not even see the new icons if you’re not paying attention to the map.

It’s likely that future versions of Google Maps will integrate the traffic lights in driving directions, and the feature is useful to have around. Whether you’re in a hurry or not, having an extra visual aid that a traffic light is about to come soon can come in handy.

Google Maps
Google Maps screenshots show traffic lights icons in Android version of the app. Image source: Droid-Life

It’s unclear when the traffic lights feature will start showing up for everyone. But given that some people have started seeing it on Android, it can’t be too much longer. Once it’s available on Android, the feature should arrive on the iPhone as well. Updating Google Maps to the latest version of Android won’t guarantee early access to the functionality. Droid-Life reports that traffic lights have shown up in Google Maps 10.44.3 but not in beta version 10.45.0.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.