[Update 2: Limited Global Rollout] Google Maps tests a new alert for when your taxi goes off route
Getting driving directions from Google Maps is one of its most vital and useful features. To make navigation more effective for the drivers, Google recently added a speedometer in Google Maps to alert you when you may be driving at a higher speed than the set limit for the road or when there might be a speed camera. Now, Google Maps is getting another feature which will help you stay safe while riding a taxi by alerting you every time your ride gets off the route.
These new off-route alerts in Google Maps will send an alert to your phone every time you get sidetracked from the intended course by 500 meters. Besides ensuring your safety, the feature should also help you avoid being tricked by a cab driver while traveling to an unfamiliar part of the city. As expected, your route won’t get rerouted automatically (as it would otherwise) when you’re hitting on the wrong road. Of course, apart from when you’re riding a cab, the feature should also be of use if you’re driving yourself.
The off-route feature in Google Maps was spotted by our Senior Editor Aamir Siddiqui and it currently seems to be available only in India. We have not come across any other reports about the feature being live at other locations but if you have it outside India, we’d love to know about it.
Last week, Google added the functionality to track delays in public transport and view auto-rickshaw fares for Google Maps users in India. This is among the several India-first initiatives that Google has taken eyeing the massive opportunities in the country. In the West, Google recently began asking users about the amount of rush in their public transport rides.
Additionally, Google Maps also got a new section to highlight the most preferred dishes in restaurants, with menus curated using machine learning and their descriptions crowd-sourced from reviews left by users on Google. The feature is designed to help you easily decide what to eat.
Update: Google Maps’ Stay Safer feature now live in India
Nearly a fortnight after we first discovered the feature, Google has formally released the feature in India. The “Stay Safer” feature, as we saw earlier, will notify users with a “prominent notification” when they get off the route by 500 meters. Users will also be able to share their live location with friends or family members for them to track the route and take any action if necessary.
Google notes that this should especially be beneficial for the safety of women on their cab or autorickshaw rides alone. Besides Android, the feature will be also available on Google Maps for iOS.
Update 2: Limited Global Rollout
After rolling out in India this summer, Google Maps’ “Stay Safer” features are now becoming available globally. We noticed the feature showing up over the weekend here in the US, and others have noticed it in othe countries, such as the Netherlands. You can share a live trip with friends and get alerts if you go off route.