Snooze control: Google Now gets destination alarms for public transit

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Back in college, I used to doze on the bus during my 90-minute commute to an 8 A.M. history class. Most of the time, those extra Z's were fitful, constantly interrupted over the fear that I'd missed my stop. Google is hoping to put an end to those fears for current students and other commuters.

A new feature recently popped up in Google Now on Android that lets you set an alarm on your phone to go off when you arrive at your destination via public transit. The new feature relies on your saved home and work locations to surface alerts when you need them, according to Android Police, which first reported on the new feature.

Whether public transit alarms are available to you depends on where you live, since the feature likely ties in to Google Maps' public transit directions, a feature first introduced in 2005.


The Google Transit landing page.

Google supports public transit routes in numerous countries worldwide and a vast number of locations across the U.S. To see if Google Maps has your transit system covered check out the Google Transit cities list.

Beyond Google Maps, there's also the nebulous issue of whether the Google Now feature is rolled out in your area. Android Police nabbed screenshots from the Netherlands, which suggests that public transit destination alarms via Google Now are either being tested in Europe or they're already available in most countries worldwide.

To see if the new feature will work for you, make sure Google Now is set to give you public transit directions by default. Do that by opening Google Now, scrolling down to the bottom, and tapping the magic wand icon. Next, go to Everything else > How do you usually get around? and select "Public transit."

Beyond that, start using Google Maps' transit directions when you need to know where you're going, and check Google Now while you're riding the bus.

That doesn't guarantee you'll see the new feature, but at least Google's magic algorithms can identify you as someone who would benefit from public transit destination alarms.

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