Google Maps adds ‘Driving Mode’ to automatically guess where you want to go, help you get there

BY Evan Selleck

Published 13 Jan 2016

Google Maps Driving Mode

Utilizing a navigation app, or, like in the Stone Age, a GPS unit, typically means starting your trip by tapping a few screens, inputting an address, and then getting on your way. Google’s looking to change that.

The new feature is called “Driving Mode,” and it’s pretty spot-on. It was initially discovered by the fine folks over at Android Police, before the feature was being officially rolled out by Google, but then Venture Beat managed to get some hands-on time with the new feature, as it has begun to rollout to some Google Maps users. It’s a pretty cool idea: Google Maps will automatically guess where you want to go, based on recent searches, your Home/Work addresses, and even the time of day.

“Destination predictions is based on home / work addresses you have set location history data, and recent search history,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “Based on location and time of day, Google Map driving mode will show ETAs for recently searched-for destinations.”

You’ll have to actively go into Driving Mode to get the new feature to work, so you’ll still have to tap on something to start things off. That can either be done through the Google Maps menu itself, or by adding a Driving Mode shortcut on the Home screen and jumping right into it. It’s a natural extension of the Google Now cards that let you know when you should leave from work to get home, or vice versa, and it’ll probably get even better as time goes on.

“Now with just one tap, you’ll know whether you should hit the road or put in some gym time to avoid the gridlock,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “With a simple shortcut on your home screen, you’ll head straight into the new driving mode so you’re sure to get where you’re going on the quickest route possible — without entering a destination. Get information like ETAs, traffic updates, nearby gas prices, and quickest routes to familiar places — like home, work, and recently searched destinations — all from your home screen.”

The new feature is only available in a limited fashion right now, and Google says it’s only present in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, New Zealand, and Malaysia. And for those downloading the latest version of Google Maps, the new feature may not be available just yet, as the functionality is getting rolled out through the week.

What do you think of the new feature?

[via Android Police; VentureBeat]