Google Maps Now Provides Public Transit System Navigation

Image courtesy of Google
Google has released an update to Maps for Android that includes several new features including transit navigation, updated directions, better search suggestions, and a photo viewer for places pages. Another less publicized addition in this release is the ability to download areas of a map for offline navigation, which I have covered in a separate post.

Transit Navigation helps to identify what public transit services are available between your current location and a destination, and once you get on the transit service you can follow your route and Navigation will alert you when it is time to get off when you reach your destination. If you run other apps on your phone while Transit Navigation is running, you will see an alert appear at the top of the screen and the phone will vibrate when you are approaching the point where you need to get off the transit. Since Navigation uses GPS to track your location, the Transit feature will not work in subways. Transit Navigation works in over 400 cities around the world.

Previously, when you used Google Maps to obtain directions and then use navigation to provide turn-by-turn instructions, it required two steps to first get the directions and then initiate navigation. Google Maps now consolidates the process of initiating navigation to one step, you select Menu, Directions, enter a destination for the end point, select either driving or walking directions, and then tap the Navigation button.

Search suggestion has been improved in two ways. First, as you enter a search term, the results that appear now have icons to indicate whether it was a previous search (a clock), a place (a pin), or anything else (a magnifying glass). Any place that you got directions to or called from a Places page will appear highest in the search results. Finally, when use the Places section of Google Maps, the pictures included on a place page can be viewed in full screen on the phone, previously you only saw a thumbnail picture on the place page.