Google adds more COVID-19 details to its Maps app as cases surge
Google on Tuesday said it’s adding more information on coronavirus trends to its maps app, as cases surge across the country and travel is expected to pick up during the holiday season.
In September, the search giant launched a tool for the app that uses color-coded maps to give people data on the spread of the coronavirus in states, counties and some cities. On Tuesday, Google said it’s adding more details, including all detected cases in an area, local guidelines and testing sites.
Google also said it will provide live updates about how busy it is on public transportation, as people try to avoid crowds amid the pandemic. The app will give people information about what it’s like at bus, train and subway stations, as well as how crowded it is onboard. The updates will come from Google Maps users around the world who provide the information to the app in real time. The service, for example, might say a particular train station is “a little busy” or a bus is “not too crowded” at the moment.
The company also said it will let people track food delivery orders from the Maps app, including estimated arrival times, wait times and delivery fees. The feature will be available in a handful of countries, including the US, Brazil and India.
The new tools come as health officials worry about the spread of the virus, especially as the weather gets colder and people begin to gather with family and friends for the holidays. Worldwide, the virus has killed more than 1.3 million people.
Since the pandemic began, Google has tried to adapt its Maps app to a world where more people are staying home. Earlier this year, the company added a tool that lets people book virtual appointments, like online yoga or cooking classes, along with giving price estimates for the services. Another update let shops list special hours, like time windows specifically designated for seniors or people with compromised immune systems.
Google has also tried to boost its other services during the pandemic. The search giant has aggressively pushed its Meet teleconferencing software, a rival to Zoom. The company added new features to the service and prominently displayed a Meet button in Gmail. Last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on an earnings call that the service saw a peak last quarter of 235 million daily meeting participants.