Google Maps is introducing a new widget for Android that will be another use for the functionality that helped make a name for Waze, the other driving and mapping app that Google acquired nearly a decade ago: It will now show live traffic around you not just in the app but in a widget you can access on your lock screen.
Google Maps already provides estimated arrival and travel times, and indicates when there is less or more congestion on your route with yellow/orange/red colors. The live traffic widget will be an extra, user-friendly tool for users, to give them a better idea of how busy an area will be in case they need to adjust their travel times or even routes to avoid the scrum, without needing to open the app.
The feature will work with zooming in and out to see traffic in a specific area without needing to look at the wider map in the app. Earlier you needed to open the app to see the traffic status, but now you can see it at a glance right from your home screen.
The widget is rolling out to users in the coming weeks, so you might not yet see it in your widget library. You will still need to have Maps launched for it to work.
“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,” the company said.
While the widgets are definitely a more convenient way of viewing app activity in some scenarios, they also serve another purpose: drawing more people into using the app overall, especially in times that previously would have felt too inconvenient.
With the launch of the live traffic widget, there are now 35 Google widgets available on Android.
Google Maps has rolled out some useful updates in the last few days. Last week, it made it easy for users to check Air Quality Index (AQI) so they can avoid polluted areas. Earlier this week, it rolled out the ability to see cumulative toll prices on your planned route in the U.S., India, Japan and Indonesia.