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New Google Maps widget shows live traffic information on Android

Updated 3 months ago
Published Jun 17th, 2022 7:31AM EDT
Google Maps
Image: blackzheep/Adobe

Google announced a brand new Google Maps widget that will offer users real-time traffic information about their current location. The feature should make it even easier to manage your navigation, offering immediate information about the traffic conditions around your location. But the new real-time traffic information widget has some downsides. For starters, it only works on Android for the time being. Secondly, the widget will require permanent access to location information.

How the new Google Maps widget works

Google listed five of its favorite Android widget features in a blog post earlier this week, with the new Google Maps widget topping the list.

The widget will be available on Android automatically, without users having to do anything to enable the functionality. Just add the Google Maps real-time traffic prediction widget to one of the screens on your Android phone once it becomes available in the coming weeks. You will need to have Google Maps installed, of course.

Once that’s done, the widget should work, as long as you have an internet connection. Google explains.

Whether you’re commuting or heading out to meet friends, Google Maps’ real-time traffic predictions can help you easily plan your route. And with the new nearby traffic widget, launching in the coming weeks, you’ll see this information for your current location right from your Android Home screen.

Unlike most iPhone widgets, Android widgets can be interactive. Therefore, you’ll be able to zoom in and out right inside the widget. This will help you get a better idea of what Google Maps traffic looks like around you.

Google Maps live traffic widget on Android.
Google Maps live traffic widget on Android. Image source: Google

Will the live traffic widget launch on iPhone?

The new Google Maps is limited to Android, but Google might bring it to iPhone in the future. After all, Google has always strived to offer iPhone users an identical Maps experience to the Android app.

However, there might be two problems with the widget that might complicate iOS functionality. For starters, iOS widgets aren’t interactive. You might not be able to zoom in and out of live traffic when using the widget.

Then there’s the privacy angle. For a Google Maps widget to offer location-based information at any time, you need to let the app access your location even when you’re not using the app. That’s speculation, however, as Google doesn’t address privacy matters for this Google Maps functionality.

Google’s explanation above makes it clear that it offers information about your current location. The only way to do that is to access location data in the background.

It’s unclear how the widget would work on devices that only allow Google Maps to access location data while the user accesses the app. That might be the case with some iPhone users looking to prevent Google Maps from tracking them. Again, that’s just speculation, as Google mentioned no details about a similar Google Maps widget functionality for the iPhone.

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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 closely follows the events in 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.