New Google Maps feature could save you hours each day

Google Maps
(Image credit: Google)

In the coming weeks, Google Maps on Android will get a new minimap widget that will highlight local traffic conditions with just a glance at your smartphone.

In a blog post highlighting the best Google Widgets features on Android, the Californian tech giant revealed a new Google Maps widget called Nearby Traffic. 

Just as the name implies, Nearby Traffic will sit on your home screen and give you traffic details of nearby roads by highlighting stretches of road in green, amber or red. You'll be able to use this to notice if there's a sudden traffic jam or accident in your vicinity, and thereby make plans to leave earlier than you might (or take an alternative route).

You’ll also be able to zoom in and out to get a more local and more general view of traffic where you are without the cumbersome process of opening the app each time.

Your location will also be highlighted by a little blue dot that moves around the map as you change location. 

This helps to turn the Nearby Traffic map into a videogame-style minimap that can give you a quick overview of your location’s layout without needing to reconfigure the app each time.

The new Nearby Traffic widget being used to show local traffic while zooming in and out

(Image credit: Google)

The new widget will be launching in the coming weeks and will be available on Android smartphones when it does. There's no official word on if a similar feature will come to Google Maps on the iPhone at the same time, but we've reached out to Google to find out more.

Wonderful widgets

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, several other Google apps can provide helpful services right on your home screen. 

Google Keep users can use a widget that provides easy access to their to-do list, while Google Translate shows you your favorite translations. 

The latter is perfect for your next trip away. You can not only save common words and phrases, but you can also get some emergency translations (for words like hospital or doctor) ready so you can communicate your urgent needs.

The Google Translate widget showing a user's favorite translations

(Image credit: Google)

Google isn’t the only company getting in on widgets though. Express VPN (our favorite VPN service) gives you a quick button to switch on your VPN without opening the app. Pokemon Go can show you how far you’ve traveled with your buddy – or how near your eggs are to hatching new critters.

Most apps have some widget, and you can find out what’s available by holding your finger down on an app icon until the menu comes up.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.