A new update from Google Maps aims to help users avoid crowded spaces across the country

It comes as the coronavirus pandemic has changed the ways we go about our daily lives, with a much bigger emphasis on avoiding big crowds like ever before.

But knowing how to avoid busy areas is difficult. By the time you notice that there’s a crowd gathered at the place you want to be, it’s too late to avoid because you’re already reached your destination.

Alerts to help you prepare

When you look up public transport directions for a trip that is likely to be affected by the pandemic, Google Maps will give you the relevant alerts from local transit agencies.

“These alerts can help you prepare accordingly if government mandates impact transit services, or require you to wear a mask on public transportation,” the official Google blog said.

There will also be driving alerts to notify you about Covid-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route as well.

If you plan on making your way to a medical facility or Covid-19 testing centre, Google Maps will display an alert reminding you of the different requirements to enter those facilities, so you don’t get turned away.

How do the ‘crowdedness’ alerts work?

Last year, Google introduced so-called ‘crowdedness predictions’ for public transport in Google Maps. These were powered by millions of contributions from past riders, which then informed other riders about how busy a particular bus or train tends to be at certain times.

The tech giant explained: “Rolling out over the next several weeks, these capabilities are powered by aggregated and anonymized data from users who have opted in to Google Location History, a Google account level setting that is off by default.”

Which phones will be getting the update?

Both Android and iOS (Apple) devices will receive the update.

You should have your phone updated to the latest upgrade in order to ensure that you’ll receive the newest updates from Google.

You can check if your device needs upgrading by going into the settings.

  • For Android phones, go to Settings > System > System Updates.
  • For iOS (Apple) devices, go to Settings > General > Software Update.

What countries are getting the updates?

Google confirmed that these changes are now rolling out globally, and those in the UK can expect to see the updates this week.

Other areas around the world that can look out for the changes are:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • France
  • India
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Thailand
  • America