Google brings back compass on Maps for Android users

Google is bringing back the compass feature on Maps. “We’re excited to announce the return of the compass on Maps for Android,” it said in a post on the Google Maps help forum.

The compass was removed from Maps for Android in early 2019 “in an effort to clean up the Navigation screen.”

However, owing to user demand, the tech-giant is bringing back the feature.

“When you use Maps on Android to navigate to a destination, the compass will, again, be featured as one of the widgets on the right side of the screen. As you rotate, the red arrow will indicate which direction is north,” it further explained.

This feature will be available for all Google Maps for Android users who update to version 10.62 globally. It was not removed for Google Maps users on iOS and will continue to be available.

New AI-powered improvements

Google earlier this week also announced a range of new artificial intelligence-powered enhancements for Maps.

“This year, we’re on track to bring over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps,” it said in a blog post.

This includes a new weather layer and a new air quality layer.

The new weather layer will show current and forecasted temperature and weather conditions in an area. While the new air quality layer will show users how healthy or unhealthy the air is in an area.

This information is particularly helpful for users with allergies or when users are in a smoggy or fire-prone area.

“Data from partners like The Weather Company, AirNow.gov and the Central Pollution Board power these layers that start rolling out on Android and iOS in the coming months,” it said.

The weather layer will be available globally and the air quality layer will launch in Australia, India, and the United States., with more countries to come.

Apart from this, it is also adding a new feature that alerts drivers when they are in low emission zones. These are “areas that restrict polluting vehicles like certain diesel cars or cars with specific emissions stickers.”

“You can quickly know if your vehicle is allowed in the area, choose an alternative mode of transportation, or take another route,” Google explained.

Low emission zone alerts will launch in June this year in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom on Android and iOS, with more countries coming soon.

The tech major is also making it easier for users to choose more sustainable options while travelling. Users will soon be able to get a comprehensive view of all routes and transportation modes available to their destination.

“You can compare how long it’ll take to get there by car, transit or bike without toggling between tabs. Using advanced machine learning models, Maps will automatically prioritise your preferred modes,” it explained.

The feature will roll out globally in the coming months on Android and iOS.

It is also adding new shopping information to stores’ Business Profiles on Maps and Search such as “delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees, and order minimums.”

“We’re rolling this out on mobile Search starting with Instacart and Albertsons Cos. stores in the US, with plans to expand to Maps and other partners,” it said.

Another feature coming to Maps this year is an Indoor Live View which builds on Google’s existing Live View feature.

Thanks to new advancements that help us understand the precise altitude and placement of objects inside a building, we’re now able to bring Live View to some of the trickiest-to-navigate places indoors: airports, transit stations and malls,” explained Google.

Indoor Live View will start rolling out in the coming months in select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich, with more cities to be added later.