A new version of Google Maps slipped out late last night, just in time for the weekend. While there are a couple of small cosmetic changes showing up, we haven’t spotted any big additions yet. A teardown tells a bit of a different story. The Google Maps team is getting ready to add a new form for reporting road closures, and another for creating new accounts with Uber. There will also be a new notification for confirming your mode of transportations during commutes, and best of all, you’ll soon be able to tell how full busses and subways are likely to be.
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
Cosmetic improvement to ‘Avoid’ messages
If you set up avoidance restrictions for navigation, you’ll now get a nicer looking line with your criteria. Instead of all-caps and the word ‘AVOID’ repeated for each option, text is now shown in sentence case and each option is comma delimited. I know, it’s cosmetic, but this is the type of polish that counts.
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.
Mass transit fullness scale
Maps made life better for drivers when it began reporting how difficult parking was in an area, and more importantly, how full individual parking lots and garages might be. Now it’s time to tackle the problem for those that look to subways and busses to get around.
Google is going to begin reporting the occupancy of mass transit options, rating them in general terms of severity: Many seats available, few seats available, standing room only, and crushed standing room only.
Standing room only
Few seats available
Many seats available
Knowing that you’ll be competing for limited space can be vitally important for those with physical disabilities, anybody carrying a lot of things or anything delicate (imagine carrying a cake on a packed subway), or those with claustrophobia or other fears.
I’ve checked a few different subways and bus routes, but none of them appear to be showing any warnings about being busy.
Reporting road closures w/ details and schedules
Google Maps uses many different sources to deliver timely information about road closures and special conditions. However, the method for reporting a road closure is pretty hidden and only allows users to include a short note to convey the situation. The Google Maps forums often direct users to Waze or the web interface to enter anything more useful. The latest update to Maps indicates this is about to change.
Current reporting workflow (under Send Feedback in nav drawer)
A new reporting interface seems to be in the works. It’s still not elaborate, nor should it be, but it will bring a few more fields to make reports more useful and informative. Users will be prompted to include details about the closure, including which directions are affected (one way or both) and a reason for the closure with options like a crash, local events, mudslides, and several others. There will also be an option to add start and end times for the closure, which will be useful for things like parades and scheduled road work.
Select an issue to report
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_DIRECTION_PLACEHOLDER”>Which way is closed?</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_DIRECTION_ONE_WAY”>One way only</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_DIRECTION_TWO_WAYS”>Both ways</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_EVENT”>Local Event</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE_FALLEN_TREE”>Fallen tree</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE_PLACEHOLDER”>Choose which type</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE_SNOW_ICE”>Snow or ice</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NOT_SURE”>Not sure</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_OTHER”>Other / Not sure</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_ADD_SCHEDULE_PROMPT”>Add closure dates and times</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_ADD_DATE_TIME”>Add details (optional)</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_CLOSED_NOW”>Closed now?</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_FROM”>Start date</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_END_WHEN”>When will the closure end?</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_UNTIL”>End date</string>
<string name=”ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_INVALID”>Change what you entered so the end date is in the future and after the start date</string>
Uber (and others?) account creation form
Uber integration has been present in Maps for a long time, starting with basic price listings nearly two years ago, and becoming full-fledged native support about a year later. If you don’t already have an Uber account, you could already use your existing Google account to instantly sign up to Uber. But with the latest update, there are signs that Maps may be making that account creation a little more thorough.
Account creation process (v9.71)
Judging by a pile of new strings, there’s a revised account creation form in the works. It’s possible Uber wants to carry out its own account validation process, or might have been pressured to make users go through a more formal sign-up. On the other hand, only one string out of the bunch is specific to Uber, so it’s possible this whole form is meant to be generic and will eventually branch out to work with other “ride-share” services.
<string name=”CANCEL_ACCOUNT_LINKING_MESSAGE”>You need to link your accounts to book a ride</string>
<string name=”CREATE_ACCOUNT_CREATE_BUTTON”>Create account</string>
<string name=”CREATE_ACCOUNT_PHONE_LABEL”>Phone number</string>
<string name=”CREATE_ACCOUNT_SUBTITLE”>Your %1$s account will be created with the following information</string>
<string name=”CREATE_ACCOUNT_TITLE”>Almost done</string>
<string name=”CREATE_ACCOUNT_COARSE_LOCATION”>Current city</string>
<string name=”CHOOSE_PHONE_NUMBER_ADD_NUMBER”>Add phone number</string>
<string name=”CHOOSE_PHONE_NUMBER_LIST_TITLE”>Choose another phone number</string>
<string name=”VERIFY_CODE_ERROR”>Wrong code. Try again.</string>
<string name=”VERIFY_CODE_RESEND_SMS_BUTTON”>Get new code</string>
<string name=”VERIFY_CODE_SMS_DELAY_LABEL”>Didn’t receive a code?</string>
<string name=”VERIFY_CODE_SMS_DELAY_TIME”>Wait %s and try again</string>
<string name=”VERIFY_CODE_SUBTITLE”>Sent to %1$s</string>
<string name=”VERIFY_CODE_TITLE”>Enter verification code</string>
<string name=”CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_TITLE”>Book a ride in less than 30 seconds</string>
<string name=”CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_SUBTITLE”>Link %1$s to your Google Account</string>
<string name=”CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_OTHER_ACCOUNT”>Use a different %1$s account</string>
<string name=”CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_CONTINUE_AS_NAME”>Continue as %1$s</string>
<string name=”CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_LIST_TITLE”>Choose account</string>
<string name=”CHOOSE_COUNTRY_CODE”>Choose country</string>
<string name=”CONTENT_DESCRIPTION_COUNTRY_CODE”>Country code: %1$s %2$s</string>
<string name=”ACCOUNT_LINKING_GOOGLE_SIGN_IN”>Get started</string>
Confirming your mode of transportation
A few new strings were added with this update that suggest a new type of notification may appear for a few people. These are basically phrased to ask if you’re not using the mode of transport Google thought you were. This is likely to work with the commute features added a few months ago.
Don’t drive to work?
Don’t take transit to work?
How do you commute?
<string name=”NOTIFICATION_SUBTEXT_GENERIC”>Tap to correct your transport mode for better updates</string>
<string name=”NOTIFICATION_SUBTEXT_SPECIFIC”>Tap to correct your commute mode for better updates</string>
My hunch is that Maps will identify behaviors that don’t fit with the transportation mode it expects. For example, you’re expected to be driving, but your route takes you through several bus stops, and then you begin walking. Once Maps notices this, it will post a notification asking you to correct the mode, which will likely take you to the commute settings.
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.
Version: 9.72.0 beta