A beta version of Google maps just hit the Play Store. The process to check it out is super simple: just sign up to become a tester, then click the link to Google Play to install it. You’ll then soon see an update on your phone.
It’s not entirely packed with new features right now, but there are a few new items found in version 9.27.
The most notable additions are “show pending contributions notifications” and “driving notifications.”
The former will ping you about places you’ve been and not left reviews, which is useful if you’re trying to climb the Local Guides ladder. If not, this could get annoying fast.
The latter will put a notification on your screen when you connect to a car’s bluetooth dashboard, so you could theoretically start a trip navigation in just one tap. I’ve seen this before this update, so this probably is there to give you control to turn it off for good or always enable it depending on your preference.
Maps on Android Wear also now launches with a splash screen, which is a way to give some visual pleasantry when waiting for Maps to load. This ought to speed up down the line when Android Wear 2.0 launches with support for native applications.
The impact on you: Maps is one of Google’s best products. It’s worth jumping on the beta, as that’s an option you’ll only get on Android since Google can tinker away and push out updates given its control of the Play Store. If you’re heading out on a weekend adventure, now’s the perfect time to try out these new tools.