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Google Maps is getting an ingenious new feature that we never saw coming

Published Dec 5th, 2019 6:04PM EST
Google Maps Features
Image: Valentin Wolf/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

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In its never-ending quest to make Google Maps as useful as possible, Google keeps adding features to its popular navigation app, including functionality you might not necessarily associate with a mapping application. That’s precisely the case for the following feature, which can be very helpful in all sorts of situations. It’s also the kind of functionality we never knew we needed, or saw coming.

Google has yet to unveil the new Lighting layer that’s coming to Maps, but an xda-developers teardown of Maps v10.31.0 beta might have spoiled the surprise. The purpose of the feature is to highlight streets that are brightly lit in a specific location. The new layer can be helpful if you’re driving at night a lot, or just visiting a new place and want to avoid dark streets at night.

The update will highlight the streets that are well lit with a yellow color, and the visual indicator should be enough to help you avoid certain areas, especially when walking by yourself at night in a place you’ve never been before. The feature will be available in India while in testing, the report notes, and then we might see it roll out in other regions of the world.

It’s unclear at this time how Google will actually collect lighting data for its app, but then again, collecting data is one of Google’s strengths. And if that means adding some peace of mind to those using Google Maps at night, this is actually the kind of data Google should collect as fast as possible.

Actual images of the new Lighting layer aren’t available for the time being, but the report does offer a look at the code inside the app associated with the feature:

<string name=”LAYER_SAFETY”>Lighting</string>
<string name=”SAFETY_LAYER_ONBOARDING_DIALOG_BODY”>Yellow lines show streets with good lighting</string>
<string name=”SAFETY_LAYER_ONBOARDING_DIALOG_NO_LIGHTING_INDICATOR”>No lighting info available</string>
<string name=”SAFETY_LAYER_ONBOARDING_DIALOG_POOR_LIT_INDICATOR”>Poor to no lighting</string>
<string name=”SAFETY_LAYER_ONBOARDING_DIALOG_TITLE”>See how brightly lit the streets are</string>
<string name=”SAFETY_LAYER_TOOLTIP_PROMO”>New! See how brightly lit the streets are</string>
<string name=”SAFETY_LAYER_UNAVAILABLE”>”Lighting view isn’t available at this zoom or in this region”</string>
<string name=”SAFETY_LAYER_ZOOM_IN_SNACKBAR”>Zoom in more to see lighting data.</string>

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.