A new version of Google Maps hit the beta channel late Friday evening. At the same time, Google announced improvements to the step-by-step navigation features for moving through public transit. That announcement applies to v9.68 and above, but after poking around in 9.69, there are also a couple of new things to check out. You can now see your reviews on locations in your custom lists, and add comments to those places to add hints or recommendations. A teardown also provides some hints about upcoming features like a new option to share a location without having it track your movements.
- Step-by-Step transit navigation with notifications (blog post)
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
- Reviews appear in lists
- Add comments to places in your lists
Step-by-Step directions through public transit
The Google Maps team is making navigation through public transit much more intuitive and convenient. Starting with Google Maps 9.68 (the previous version), you’ll now receive notifications with your transit directions, including helpful indicators and time estimates. As you move from place to place, Maps will update the notification to reflect each step of the way, much like it does for driving navigation.
Our previous teardown turned up signs that this was coming, but settings for this feature have been around for months, and this is just the latest in a series of improvements targeting transit navigation. In fact, an early version of transit navigation (including notifications) was first launched back in 2011.
Reviews now appear in lists
If you’re browsing some of your lists since the latest update, you might notice they’re looking a little more information-dense. That’s because your written reviews now appear below each location. Only the first few lines of text are shown, but tapping on the review will expand it to full length.
Local Guides spent a few months testing Lists before they were ultimately rolled out to all Android and iOS users in February, and then the web app last month. They have a simple social element, allowing users to share and follow other peoples’ collections. But since launch, Lists have remained a bit barren, only including a title, description, and of course the locations. Now the Maps team is adding a little more customizability as users can now add comments to locations in their lists.
Adding a comment is done by tapping the edit (pen) button in the action bar while a list is open. A new text box will appear below each location in the list. Just enter a comment and hit save. The comment will now appear below the location in the list. Only one thing can occupy that space, so if you have also written a review for the same place, your comment will take priority.
These comments look reminiscent to the “personal notes” feature that began appearing in a teardown of v9.60 (which is still in development), but the hint text indicates that anything recorded here will likely also be visible to anybody that has access to the same list. However, I haven’t seen the comments if I visit a list through a shared link, so that functionality may not be complete yet.
Updates about your contributions
There’s a new notification toggle in Settings -> Notifications -> Your contributions. This one promises to let you know if any of your reviews, photos, or other contributions end up becoming popular. If you’re looking for a little confirmation that you’ve helped to make better maps, this might just be a good one for you. The setting is enabled by default, but the notification it produces will come with an easy opt-out button if you would prefer not to get another.
A notification channel has already been available for this feature on Android 8.0 Oreo devices. It’s not clear if these notifications were already popping up yet or not.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android’s application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It’s possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it’s officially announced and released.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don’t expect to see these features if you install the apk.
Location sharing: Real-time versus Current
Sometimes we really want to give people a constant feed to our current location. It’s helpful for letting them know we’re on the way to meet them, or to let them find us in a large area a little more easily. There are other times that we only need to give them a single point of reference, and it doesn’t need to follow us around once we leave.
Share your real-time location
Share your current location
Currently, we can only share our real-time location, but it looks the Maps team is going to add an option to share only a current position that remains locked in place. Once this goes live, it will probably be located within the blue dot menu (tap on the blue dot), and likely also in the location sharing screen accessible from the navigation drawer.
Promoting Taxi service
Sometimes the longest part of a drive is the hunt for parking that comes after reaching your destination. Five minutes of travel sounds good until it turns into twenty minutes of circling the block. Google Maps may begin doing a little more to encourage hopping into a cab so you can step out at the front door rather than wasting time, space, and money for parking.
Skip the hassle of parking
Get a ride instead
Transit maps on tap
Finally, there’s a new label that suggests transit schematics may be linked from within the app. This can be handy when a city map is a little better at representing train or bus routes than the lines you’ll get from looking at the overlay provided by Google Maps.
I had thought this was already a feature, but after poking around through a few subway locations, none of them appear to link to any maps. Perhaps I’m overlooking something, or maybe these maps were only available by tapping through to the respective transit authority websites, then opening the maps from there.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.