Google Maps just got a killer upgrade to make commuting easier

Google Maps
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Starting Wednesday (Feb. 17), Google Maps is implementing payment options on its mobile app to help manage and pay parking fees, the company announced on its blog. The app supports fee payments in over 400 US cities and transport fares found in over 80 worldwide agencies. It's all in a bid to encourage more contactless transactions in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as these payment options reduce and even eliminate the need to swipe or tap your debit or credit cards.

You can pay both parking meter fees and transit fares via providers like Parkmobile and Passport with Google Pay integration. A "Pay for Parking" button will appear in Google Maps as you reach your destination. Type in your assigned meter number and how long you need to park, and then hit "Pay" to complete the transaction. If you find yourself running out of prepaid time, you can extend your parking session via app without being near the physical meter.

In the case of public transit, Google Maps makes it possible to plan and pay for a trip right within the app. That means you don't need to move over to a completely different program to pay for a trip in one area and another app for your return trip. There's no need to find a physical ticket machine or teller, either. That means there's also less hassle with losing a ticket since it's all done electronically. In most instances, you just scan your phone to get past turnstiles and head out to your destination.

If you don't already have Google Pay set up and linked to Google Maps or your Google Account, you'll need to take care of that before you can pay for any trips. That requires a credit or debit card. It's unclear if Maps will integrate with cards, sans Google Pay, in your digital wallet at this time or if that's a potential feature going forward.

Right now, this new Maps feature is only available for Android users across major cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC. However, iOS support and a wider rollout is on the way. This contactless payment option should make it simpler, at the very least, to get around without being concerned for your own safety when touching potentially grimy and dangerous surfaces. And eliminating the frustration of walking back to a parking meter (or a potential ticket) is a major boon that should last long after pandemic restrictions lessen. 

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.