Google Maps is getting a big upgrade for holiday travel — 3 new features you can try

Google Maps app icon on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google has unveiled new updates to Google Maps that aim at improving your commute. There’s just one problem: you won’t get two of them before the busy Thanksgiving holiday.

Announced in a new Google blog post, Google Maps transit directions will soon help users quickly determine which of their transit directions would be best for them, based on estimated time of arrival, number of transfers and trip length. Google is also adding a handful of filters to the feature, so users can choose the type of transit they desire. They can even limit how much time they walk.

transit route recommendations in google maps

(Image credit: Google)

While the feature promises less headaches for a busy holiday season, Google said the feature will initially only be available in 80 cities around the world, including New York, London, Madrid, and Boston. Google also stopped short of providing an exact launch date and instead said it’ll start rolling out to iOS and Android “in the coming weeks.”

Google Maps List feature

emoji reactions in Google Maps

(Image credit: Google)

Google Maps’ List feature is designed to help users remember where they’ve been and use emojis to mark locations on their maps. Google said on Wednesday (Nov. 15) that the feature is getting an upgrade by allowing users to share their lists with friends and collaborate inside the mobile Google Maps app.

“Everyone in your group can add places they’re interested in visiting,” Google said in the blog post, “and vote with an emoji, like a heart, if you think it’s a must-see spot or a thumbs down for places you’d rather not visit.”

Google, which argued the feature would make it simpler for users to plan trips with friends in-app than on lengthy text message chains, said the feature will similarly be available “in the coming weeks” on Android and iOS.

Emojis galore 

Google Maps emojis

(Image credit: Google)

In its third and final announcement on Wednesday, Google said that it’s currently rolling out a feature that will allow Google Maps app users to add emojis to images, videos or reviews other users had placed on a location’s listing. To do so, Google Maps users can go to a point of interest and click on the review or media file of choice. They can then add an emoji. Google also said the feature, which is rolling out now to Android and iOS users, will use AI to examine the photo and the reaction and provide emoji mashups.

“Just react to a photo of that new pumpkin bagel that you’re excited to try with the yum face,” Google said in its blog post. “You’ll automatically get an emoji reaction that’s tailored to the content in the photo, like a mashup of the yum face and a bagel.”

In its blog post, Google highlighted the night Google Maps features as an opening to the upcoming holiday season. But with the busy Thanksgiving commute just days away, it would’ve been nice if the new features were available in time for the holiday. Whether they’ll make their way to Google Maps ahead of December holidays is unknown.

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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.