+ Tuesday January 28th, 2020

Google is rolling out improvements to Google Assistant within Google Maps to make it more tuned to the navigation experience. With a lower visual profile to help users focus on driving, Assistant will be optimised for navigation, and take up less space to minimise distraction for drivers.

Simply say “OK Google”, and the new optimised Assistant will appear at the bottom of the Maps display, sliding up over the arrival time and distance estimate and navigation controls. During daylight hours, this panel will be white, and at night, dark.

These screenshots below via 9to5Google:

Importantly, Assistant commands will now run in the background and keep the user in Google Maps, instead of switching to Assistant completely. This will allow users to initiate SMS messages, play music and more (even making phone calls) without leaving the Maps navigation interface.

Google referred to this update at Google IO earlier this year, but it appears that it’s starting to roll out now in version 10.4.1 of Google Maps. The new features join other changes to Maps and Assistant, including business messaging and a commute tab with playback controls integrated.

Maps - Navigate & Explore
Maps - Navigate & Explore
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free
Source: 9to5Google.

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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colin kay
colin kay

I wish google maps had less clutter. Too much irrelevant stuff showing. Route numbers that are 5-10km away are useless. Way too much stuff.
Why show alt routes that are longer and slower.
Driving is intense enough.
And time saving route options that divert to busy cross-roads with NO traffic lights. Thanks heaps goooogle.

All good but still a long way to gps nirvana.

Pete T
Pete T

There is currently an issue raised via the Google Assistant Help forum since April 2018, describing how Google Assistant goes offline when your Android device goes to sleep. (In the case of my Samsung for instance it times out after a maximum of 50 minutes without keyboard activity.) You then need to manually type in your password – not great for a Nav device when it is illegal to operate keys on your phone while driving. The only work around is to disable your phone’s security. Google has only this past week or so acknowledged that a problem MAY exist… Read more »

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