Google Maps upgrade could be its most important in years

Ever hopped in a taxi and started to worry if the driver goes off route? Well, Google Maps is here to help.

Earlier this year, Google started rolling out a new feature for Maps called Stay Safer that gives users alerts if they’re in a cab that starts to divert from an expected path.

In a nutshell, the feature ensures that Google Maps notifies you if your driver diverts more than half a kilometre from a suggested route. Users then have the option to share a live trip with friends or family so they’re aware of the situation and can take appropriate action if needed.

Explaining the feature, the Mountain View-based firm said: “At Google Maps, we have focused on building India-first features to deliver a more relevant and reliable experience for our users. Through our extensive research across India, we found that a lot of people limit their mobility due to safety-related concerns.

“We’re excited to announce a new feature – Stay Safer – for passengers travelling in taxis and auto-rickshaws, to give them peace of mind, or avoid being taken through a longer route.

“Now, after searching for your destination and getting directions, you can enable this experience by selecting the ‘Stay safer’ and ‘Get off-route alerts’ option. If your driver deviates more than half a kilometre from the Google Maps suggested route, your phone will buzz with a prominent notification, and you can tap it to see where you are compared to the original route.

“Then, you can also choose to share your live trip with friends and family directly from that screen so they know you are off route and can keep track of your journey, and take appropriate action, if required.”

All in all, the tool seems important for bringing peace of mind to users that frequently ride in cabs and want to focus on themselves, not the route taken by the driver.

Although the feature was previously only available in India, it now seems to be making its way to other countries across the globe.

More specifically, XDA Developers noticed the feature has gone live in the US and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, was unable to activate the feature on any of our smartphones in the UK.

However, the delivery of the feature to other territories suggests a wider rollout may be in the works. However, this has not been officially announced by Google.

If and when the new Maps feature does come to the UK, we’re expecting it to land on Android and iOS devices.