Google Maps for Android now works inside tunnels – here's how to enable it

A Driver tapping on their phone screen while Google Maps is on screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock / mhong84)

Google Maps has quietly been adding some useful upgrades in 2024, including support for 3D buildings while you're navigating – and Android users are now reporting seeing a new feature that keeps Maps connected while you're underground or in tunnels.

As spotted by SmartDroid (via 9to5Google), Google Maps on Android now contains an option (turned off by default) to connect to Bluetooth beacons. This means your Android phone can use the beacons installed inside the tunnels of many major cities to retain Google Maps connectivity, so you don't miss any in-tunnel exits or accident alerts.

This feature has already been available on the Google-owned Waze for a few years now, but its inclusion in Google Maps is more recent. Some users reported seeing it last year, but it's now been rolled out more widely – as we can confirm after seeing the feature on our Android phones.

Naturally, the feature won't work in every single tunnel you drive through. But the Waze Beacons program support page says that "many cities around the world" do already use the beacons, and that these include New York City, Chicago, Paris, Rio, Brussels, Oslo, Sydney, Boston and Mexico City.

You don't have to worry about privacy issues when using the feature either, as information is only relayed one-way, from the Beacons to your smartphone. The Beacons themselves are simple battery-powered controllers that use low-powered Bluetooth.

Got an Android phone? Here's how you can turn on the feature...

How to enable it

An Android phone on an orange background showing the Bluetooth beacons option in the Google Maps app

(Image credit: Future)

Right now, the feature is only available for Google Maps on Android, with iOS users missing out, for now, at least.

To allow Google Maps to use Bluetooth beacons for navigation, go into Settings > Navigation, then head to the 'Driving Options' section. The 'Bluetooth tunnel beacons' option will be turned off by default; toggle it on and you'll be presented with a simple confirmation method.

How useful the feature will be for you obviously depends on where you live. But if you regularly drive through tunnels in major cities it could give you extra peace of mind, knowing that sudden traffic updates or exit information will still reach your Android phone.

The rollout of beacon support follows the recent arrival of 3D buildings in navigation mode for the Google Maps app on Android, iOS, Android Auto and CarPlay. That's another feature that's a big bonus for city drivers – and we've got a few more of those for your to peruse in our guide to 10 things you didn't know Google Maps could do.

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Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.