Google Maps has slowly been absorbing useful features from Waze over the years, but there are still differences between the two. Not as many as before, though, because Google just stole another useful feature from Waze’s repertoire.
Rolling out now is a notification warning users when they’re approaching railroad crossings and to expect delays as a result. It may not be Google Maps adopting Waze’s aggressive redirecting features, but it’s still very useful.
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Strangely Google Maps hasn’t announced this feature. Normally the company will write up some sort of blog post explaining the positives of whatever new feature or design has come to Google Maps. But not this time, because we only found out thanks to Reddit user u/SamsungGalaxyPlayer.
It makes me wonder whether there are more features coming to Google Maps that we just haven’t spotted yet.
Still, this is going to be a big improvement. Especially if you live in areas of the U.S. where train crossings are common, and you have to wait for a crazy length of time while an extra-long freight car goes past. The only downside is that it doesn’t tell you what sort of delays to expect, and it’s not clear whether Google Maps has accounted for trains when it calculates its ETA.
You’d hope so, especially since Google Maps does use historical data to help calculate its arrival time. So if you’re passing through an area with regular delays at train crossings, Google should be able to see that and adjust your travel time accordingly. Plus freight and commuter trains can be tracked, and if anyone has information about which trains are due to be where, it’s likely to be Google.
This is just one of many Waze-centric features that have come to Google Maps since the former was bought out in 2013. One good example is how Google Maps users were given the ability to report road hazards and traffic back in late 2019. Sadly the app does not offer Waze’s aggressive method of automatically redirecting you to shave every last second off your ETA.
Train crossing notifications will likely be rolling out to Google Maps users across the U.S., before expanding to other countries. So keep an eye out on your own map, especially if you live in an area with a lot of rail traffic.
Google Maps may not be able to stop trains from causing delays, but at least warning you in advance gives you the option to see if there are any other routes available.
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Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.