In the coming weeks, Google Maps on Android will get a new minimap widget that will show local traffic conditions at a glance on your smartphone.
In a blog post (opens in new tab) the California tech giant highlighted the best Google Widgets features on Android and unveiled a new Google Maps widget called Near Traffic.
As the name implies, Nearby Traffic is shown on your home screen and you get traffic information from nearby roads by highlighting stretches of road in green, orange or red. You can use this to notice if there’s a sudden traffic jam or accident in your area, and make plans to leave earlier than you could (or take an alternate route).
You can also zoom in and out to get a more local and general view of the traffic where you are, without the cumbersome process of opening the app every time.
Your location is also marked by a small blue dot that moves across the map when you change location.
This helps turn the map of nearby traffic into a video game style mini map that gives you a quick overview of your location layout without having to reconfigure the app every time.
The new widget will be launched in the coming weeks and will be available on Android smartphones when it does. There’s no official word on whether a similar feature will be coming to Google Maps on iPhone at the same time, but we’ve reached out to Google for more information.
We know 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 pointed out in the same blog post as the minimap news, several other Google apps can provide useful services right on your home screen.
Google Keep users can use a widget that gives easy access to their to-do list, while Google Translate shows you your favorite translations.
The latter is perfect for your next trip away. Not only can you save common words and phrases, but you can also prepare some emergency translations (for words such as hospital or doctor) so that you can communicate your urgent needs.
However, Google is not the only company using widgets. Express VPN (our favorite VPN service) gives you a quick button to enable your VPN without opening the app. Pokemon Go can show you how far you’ve traveled with your buddy — or how close your eggs are to hatching new critters.
Most apps have a widget, and you can see what’s available by holding your finger on an app icon until the menu appears.