A future version of Google Maps may feature location sharing, more new goodies

google maps speed limits food ordering iphone ios shutterstock 215587159
Tsyhun / Shutterstock.com
As far as smartphone apps are concerned, there’s little doubt that Google Maps, Google’s eponymous navigation app, is nearly indispensable. Whether it’s getting your bearings in a foreign country or trying to find your way to the neighborhood watering hole, Maps an invaluable tool in any smartphone users’ arsenal. It’s got turn-by-turn navigation, satellite imagery, streetside imagery, offline mapping, and real-time traffic updates. And soon, it will reportedly gain a few more. According to Ausdroid, a future version of Google Maps will add support for location sharing, a “hands-free” driving mode, and new shortcuts.

Location sharing is perhaps the most self-explanatory of the forthcoming features. Ausdroid’s report lays out the details: When location sharing is switched on within the Google Maps’ settings menu, you’ll be able to share your current location with an approved list of friends. Tapping on a new Friends tab will take you to a management screen, and from there, you’ll be able to grant contacts access to your real-time location or take stock of the ones you’ve recently invited.

It’s a little reminiscent of Google Latitude, a since-shuttered service that operated on the concept of location sharing. It, too, let you share your location with friends, but with greater customization: You could provide an exact real-time location or provide less-precise whereabouts; you could manually enter a location or temporarily disable tracking; and you could selectively share your location with friends and contacts. It featured social elements, too, like a Foursquare-esque check-in feature and a Leadership board that awarded points for completing daily challenges. Google discontinued Latitude in August 2013.

Location tracking isn’t the only new feature on the way, it seems. “Hands-free faster routes” will you verbally accept — or decline — a faster route when Maps automatically suggests one. Improved performance and enhancements the app’s offline mode are reportedly in tow, too — specifically ones that “make searching and starting navigation much faster.” And there’s a new feature for Local Guides, Google’s social mapping platform that rewards users for rating places, uploading photos, and adding tips. An option within the “My Contributions” page within the forthcoming Maps app will place a shortcut to Local Guides on your phone’s home screen.

Ausdroid, unfortunately, wasn’t able to nail down the update’s release date.

If the new features see the light of day, they’ll follow on the heels of myriad others. A new “Nearby Traffic” widget indicates current traffic conditions along your route. A Popular Times features shows the busyness of a given location in real time. And recent ridesharing partnerships integrate Uber, Lyft, and others into the native Maps interface.

As helpful as Maps is most of the time, it hasn’t escaped 2016 without controversy. In November, Google shut down Map Maker, a tool that let users remove, edit, and add points of interest to Maps, after vandalization. It folded that functionality into its vetted Local Guides program instead.

Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.

Keep up-to-date with the best news apps on iPhone and Android

Are the days of traditional newspapers and broadcast news dwindling? With apps this good, maybe. Catch up on the latest headlines on any platform with the best news apps on iOS and Android.

Bethesda swings banhammer on ‘Fallout 76’ players visiting secret developer room

Bethesda is banning Fallout 76 players who gain access to the online multiplayer game's secret developer room. The hidden location contains plans for everything, including top-tier weapons and unreleased items.

Is this the first image of a Galaxy S10 being used in real life?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

Do these Geekbench results accurately represent the Moto G7?

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.

Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android

We show you how to play YouTube in the background with apps such as Opera, Chrome, and Firefox -- along with the premium offerings like YouTube Premium -- whether you have an Android or iOS device.

Verizon’s deal could get you a free iPhone XR — but there’s some fine print

Verizon launched a new deal for its smartphones aimed at encouraging customers to open a new line. If you're willing and you want two new phones, you could get a free Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XR, or Pixel 3.

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.

OpenTable points can now be used to whittle down cost of a hotel stay

Have some OpenTable Dining Points built up? Now those points can also be used to make your own hotel discounts. OpenTable is teaming up with Kayak to use points as discounts on participating hotels.

The Razer Phone 2 will have a $100 off deal for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.

REI slashes prices on Suunto, Garmin, and Fitbit Versa smartwatches

Though fitness trackers and smartwatches can get pretty pricey, REI is offering some sweet discounts on top brands. Right now, you can get a new smartwatch from Fitbit, Suunto, and Garmin for up to 35 percent off its normal price.