Google Maps adds COVID-19 updates to inform travelers, commuters about their trip

Transit alerts from local agencies now appear in the app.

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Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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2 min read

Google Maps launched new features related to COVID-19 updates. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Google Maps on Monday rolled out several new features for Android and iOS to keep travelers and commuters up to date on how COVID-19 might impact their trip. That includes information like travel restrictions and how crowded public transportation might be. TechCrunch earlier reported the news

Transit alerts from local agencies will now show up in Maps to keep people informed about government mandates related to public transportation, such as whether services are unavailable or if masks are required. The alerts are now available in the US, UK, India, Mexico, France, Thailand, Spain, Netherlands, Columbia, Brazil, Argentia, Austria and Belgium. More countries will be added soon. 

Google will also let users know if their trip involves a COVID-19 checkpoint, such as when crossing international borders. This feature is launching with the US, Canada and Mexico. 

Alerts will also pop up when users plan a trip to a COVID-19 testing center or medical facility. Data from local, state and federal governments will be pulled for these alerts to ensure people are aware of guidelines. This feature will initially be available for medical facilities in the US, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and Israel. Testing center alerts will also be available in the US. Google is working to add more countries. 

Additionally, Google is building upon a feature it rolled out last year that predicts how crowded a train, subway or bus will be. Now, when viewing transit directions, users can scroll down to find crowdedness predictions and add their own observations. Users will also see data on when a transit station is historically more or less crowded, or can opt to view live data by pulling up a station in Google Maps. This feature is rolling out over the next several weeks. Information is pulled from aggregated and anonymized data from users who opt in to Google Location History. 

In February, Google Maps added insights such as how hot a route may be and if security is typically onboard. The company has now rolled out these features globally. It also added more accessibility information including where there are wheelchair accessible doors, seating and stop buttons. 

Watch this: Microsoft aids Johns Hopkins University with COVID-19 map tracker