Google Maps just got a massive upgrade for drivers

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

Using Google Maps to navigate on your Android phone just got a lot quicker, thanks to an update that Google has sneakily rolled out to your device.

Now when you boot up the app and tap the microphone icon in the search bar, you’ll be greeted by a new “faster way” to search on Maps. Just say where you want to go and a new and improved Google Assistant will be able to speedily get up directions. It may also be a little more helpful too as in our tests when we specifically asked for the fastest way to get from A to B it would automatically suggest the mode of transport that was the quickest.

Voice controls on Google Maps weren’t terrible before but they were sluggish, and it sometimes felt just as quick to type out the directions you needed. Plus, if the app misheard you you’d have to sit and wait for what felt like an eternity for it to get up the wrong directions, only for you to then correct it so you can sit through the process all over again.

Thanks to the new and improved Google Assistant implementation using your voice to ask Google Maps for directions feels a lot quicker. Best of all, as you speak you’ll see a large readout of everything you said, making it easier to spot if Google mishears or misunderstands you so you can correct it before it wastes time looking for directions you don’t need.

(Image credit: Future)

No new app install required 

What’s more, there will be a list of category options onscreen you can tap instead of speaking – and they’ll instantly boot up a list of nearby services that match the description you tapped. They feel a bit superfluous as the categories are available on the main Google Maps screen, but they don’t get in the way so we’re not going to complain too much.

We’ve been testing the improved feature out and found it to be a fair bit faster than it was before. And maybe it’s just us, but it feels like using our phone’s Google Assistant to get directions in Google Maps is faster too.

The update should have already been rolled out to your phone, even if you don’t remember updating Google Maps recently. That's because this is a server-side update on Google’s end, so there’s no new app version for you to install before you can benefit from a faster search.

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.