(Credit: Screenshot: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

It's been a busy week for Google apps, with Google Earth getting distance measurements, the Files Go storage manager getting a big speed increase for wireless transfers, and Google Maps itself getting an enhanced Explore function. Next on the docket is traffic incident reporting; Maps has gotten this data from Waze users since 2013, and now Google Maps users can do the reporting themselves as well.

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Google purchased the Waze turn-by-turn navigation app in 2013 for over a billion dollars, but it has been slow to adopt Waze's features, which include speed trap alerts, notifications of cars pulled over on the side of road, and debris on the road ahead.

All of this data comes from Waze's vast community of users, sending updates to the app in real-time, which then get broadcast to everyone in the vicinity (though you can select what updates you get). For the most part, Waze has existed separately from Google Maps, developing over the years on a parallel track.

So incident reporting is the first major new feature import that we've seen from Waze into Google Maps in quite some time. Now, when you open Google Maps and tap a situation icon -- which may be anything from a planned road closure to construction -- it will now ask you to confirm if the incident is ongoing, with "Yes," "No," or "Not Sure" options.

As before, this card that pops up within Google Maps continues to show other information; in the case of a road closure, the card tells you when the closure is scheduled to end and how recently the card was updated with new info.

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Things like traffic accidents and speed traps don't yet have this mini-questionnaire, and we did not uncover a tool in Maps to report new situations. All you can do right now is confirm or deny that an already reported situation is ongoing. So Waze remains the main app for user-generated traffic updates, but it looks like Google Maps is finally pulling in some its more distinctive features.

The takeaways

  1. Google Maps continues to be the best all-around navigation app, and Apple stated recently that they're opening up CarPlay to it, where Apple Maps has been the sole (and often frustrating) option.
  2. While road construction tends to be more common in urban environments than elsewhere, road closures can happen anywhere. So better updates on those should benefit a lot of people.

See also

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.