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New Google Maps and Waze features just rolled out

Published Sep 3rd, 2020 7:31AM EDT
Google Maps Features
Image: Google

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  • Google rolled out a few new useful features for its Google Maps navigation app, while Waze received a cosmetic change that some users will appreciate.
  • Google Maps now displays traffic lights across the US and supports in-app payments for parking in Austin, Texas.
  • Waze partnered with Warner Bros. to bring Batman to the app, including voice support for driving directions.

Google has not one but two popular navigation apps, which it updates continuously. Some of those updates bring significant changes to the apps, while others are more limited in scope. But all of them are meant to improve the overall navigation experience. Both apps received several new features this year, including new functionalities intended to help users during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. That’s on top of the significant redesigns that Google already released for Google Maps in the past few months. A couple of smaller but noteworthy new features have just been added to Google Maps, while Waze got an exciting cosmetic feature that could make traveling with directions more exciting.

A report said a few weeks ago that Google was testing a Maps feature that’s already supported on Apple Maps. Some users found support for traffic lights inside the app, which can come in handy when navigating a new area. The feature is now rolling out widely, reports CNN. The maps addition should “help people stay better informed on the road,” according to a Google spokesperson.

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

The new traffic lights icons will appear in maps at intersections throughout the US. The feature was available in Japan for years, the company also said. As expected, traffic lights will start showing up both on the Android and iPhone versions of the app.

Separately, Google introduced a new parking payment feature inside Google Maps, but it won’t be available as widely. The feature works in Austin, Texas, where drivers will be able to pay for parking straight from the app.

“We’re excited to work with Passport to help drivers in Austin pay for parking more quickly and conveniently right from Google Maps,” Google Maps Product Manager Vishal Dutta said, explaining the app will integrate with Google’s payment app. “Google Pay and Google Maps were able to seamlessly incorporate Passport’s software, which helped us bring this feature to life.” A support document explains how the feature works and what you have to do to pay for parking from inside the app. Waze announced similar partnerships for parking and gas stations in recent weeks.

Google Maps
Google Maps animation demonstrates the new parking payment feature. Image source: Google

Speaking of Waze, Google’s subsidiary announced earlier this week that Batman is coming to its application. Make that Batman and The Riddler, voiced by Kevin Conroy and Wally Wingert, respectively. As you might have guessed, the Batman integration in Waze concerns the navigation and directions experience. Drivers will be able to pick either character to voice directions in the application and choose between English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Waze lets you choose Batman or The Riddler as the voice for driving directions.

Waze’s partnership with Warner Bros. will bring the two characters to Waze users worldwide and includes support for car icons that match the voices. That’s Batman and The Riddler, of course. The new features will be available on both Android and iPhone.

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.