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Google Maps, finally with Aussie traffic

It's taken a while, but it's finally here: Google Maps now includes real-time Australian traffic info.

It's taken a while, but it's finally here: Google Maps now includes real-time Australian traffic info.

Today, Google and Suna announced that live traffic data has finally been incorporated into Google Maps Australia. Updated every few minutes, traffic information is available for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

There's also updates for major roads and freeways heading through or past Wollongong, the NSW Central Coast (namely Gosford and Woy Woy), Geelong and the Sunshine Coast. We're currently waiting to hear back on future availability in Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and other major centres.

Traffic data is accessible via the Google Maps website, as well as the Google Maps app that's supplied on various phones — we've successfully tried it on the Apple iPhone, a Palm Centro and the Nokia 6710 Navigator.

Red is bad, mmmkay? (Screenshot by CNET Australia)

As with the info that's supplied via Suna's traffic message channel (TMC) service to various GPS sat nav units, the company collects traffic data from various sources. Key amongst these are the cameras, road plates and traffic lights operated by state road agencies.

Google Maps' traffic feature was first made available in a number of US cities in 2007.

Up until now drivers with TMC-equipped GPS devices have been in the dark as to which roads were covered by Suna's service. When reviewing traffic enabled GPS units in the past, we've complained about driving through traffic incidents that have already cleared up, as well as running into traffic jams that weren't yet picked up. Over the coming days we'll be pitting Google Maps' traffic feature against a few traffic enabled sat nav units to see how they compare.

In the comments below, let us know your thoughts on Google Maps' new traffic feature, as well as how it might compare to current traffic-enabled GPS units.