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Google Maps just overhauled one of its most useful features

Published May 12th, 2020 7:31AM EDT
Google Maps Location Sharing
Image: Google

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  • A Google Maps update brings over a brand new user interface for the real-time location sharing feature of the app.
  • The UI is cleaner and more intuitive than before but provides the same functionality.
  • Location sharing should be even more comfortable, even to more inexperienced smartphone users.
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You may have been driving less than before in the past few months, because of the novel coronavirus social distancing measures that have been implemented in most countries, but navigation apps are still very useful. Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze all came out with new features to help users deal with the health crisis. Some of them included COVID-19 resources, like testing centers and warnings for users. Others made changes to business listings, like highlighting restaurants that deliver during the lockdowns. But the new features coming to navigations apps aren’t all related to the coronavirus. Google Maps made notable changes to the real-time location sharing user interface so that it’s even easier to use.

Real-time location sharing can be a useful feature in a variety of situations, not just during the coronavirus pandemic. The ability to track a loved one on the map is definitely the kind of functionality that can come in handy and give you peace of mind. Not to mention that it can make meeting others and planning events easier than before.

Google is quietly rolling out the UI change to location sharing, Android Police reports. The UI change came via an app update coupled with server-side changes, the blog notes.

To access it, you’ll have to tap on your avatar in the top right corner, then go for Location Sharing. The following image shows what the new UI (on the right) looks like compared to the old implementation (on the left).

Image source: Android Police

The top blue bar is replaced by a white one, and a new floating blue button that reads New share is present instead of the previous Get started interface. The new button floats a list of contacts that can be expanded vertically to show sharing options.

You’ll still be able to select how long you want to share your location with your contacts from a new menu, and you’ll still be able to share your location via various apps, including instant messaging and email.

The visual changes should make the entire process of sharing your location even easier than before, especially for people who can get lost in menus, and don’t have a firm grasp of smartphones or complex mobile apps.

Image source: Android Police

The new UI for location sharing also comes with a better explanation for how location sharing works and what kind of information you’re actually sharing with other people.

You’ll need the latest Google Maps version (10.40.2) to access the new user interface, and even then, it might not necessarily be available in your region. Android Police says that installing that version of Maps should trigger the feature on Android devices. The UI changes should also roll to iPhone at some point in the future.

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.