In the coming weeks, Google Maps on Android will receive a new minimap widget that will highlight local traffic conditions with just a glance at your smartphone.
On a blog post (opens in new tab) Highlighting the best features of Google Widgets on Android, the Californian tech giant has unveiled a new Google Maps widget called Nearby Traffic.
Just as the name implies, nearby traffic will be on the home screen and will provide traffic details for nearby roads, highlighting stretches of road in green, amber or red. You can use this to notice if there is a sudden traffic jam or accident nearby, and thus make plans to leave earlier than you should (or take an alternate route).
You’ll also be able to zoom in and out to get a more local and more general view of traffic wherever you are, without the complicated process of opening the app each time.
Your location will also be highlighted by a small blue dot that moves across the map as you change locations.
This helps turn the nearby traffic map into a video game-style minimap that can give you a quick overview of your location layout without having to reconfigure the app each time.
The new widget will be released in the coming weeks and will be available on Android smartphones when that happens. There’s no official word on whether a similar feature will come to Google Maps on iPhone at the same time, but we’ve reached out to Google to find out more.
We know that widgets aren’t the flashiest tool in your smartphone’s arsenal, but they can seriously help you get more out of the apps you love to use.
As highlighted in the same blog post as the minimap news, a number of other Google apps can provide useful services right from the home screen.
Google Keep users can use a widget that provides easy access to the to-do list, while Google Translate shows their favorite translations.
The latter is perfect for your next trip. You can not only save common words and phrases, but also get some emergency translations (for words like hospital or doctor) ready to communicate your urgent needs.
Google isn’t the only company getting into widgets. Express VPN (our favorite VPN service) gives you a quick button to activate your VPN without opening the app. Pokemon Go can show you how far you’ve traveled with your friend – or how close your eggs are to hatching new creatures.
Most apps have some widget, and you can find out what’s available by holding your finger on the app’s icon until the menu appears.