Good news Google Maps users! Predictive functionality will soon be rolled out for the service that makes suggestions based on past habits and patterns. More specifically, if the app knows you’re leaving work or home, it will suggest a route based on your usual patterns. It can also make suggestions based on the current time of day, the day of the week and your current location.

Introducing Google Maps Driving Mode

All of this has been added in a new mode called Driving Mode. It’s proactive, similar to Google Now in that it’s designed to make personal recommendations. When the mode is active, it will also display the current status of nearby roads, reported traffic problems and potential shortcuts. This is slightly similar to how Google Maps worked in the past, with the exception of new visual indications. Roads will be highlighted in a specific color to help you better identify their current status.

Obviously, the aforementioned features and new mode will be made available through an app update, which you must download and install before you can experience the new stuff.

Don’t worry: The traditional functionality of Google Maps is still intact. That is, you can still input a particular address or location search like you have in the past. Driving Mode is a completely separate function that can be enabled at will.

When the update arrives, you’ll be able to launch Driving Mode from within the Google Maps application. You can also add it to your home screen as a shortcut, provided you find you’re using it frequently.

It’s been made clear that the Driving Mode will focus directly on frequent locations or destinations that you’ve already been to. It’s meant to be a central hub of sorts for your favorite places. This is great news if you get caught somewhere new and just want to get back home. You can pull up the necessary navigation directions with a simple tap.

To access it, all you need to do is pull up the sidebar menu from within the app and choose the start driving option. The app will handle everything else for you, but you may have to respond to select prompts.

How Will Google Use It?

Besides the obvious use for the new feature – which is providing personalized recommendations based on past history – there are some other ways Google may use Driving Mode to improve the user experience. If you take a closer look at more in-depth business mapping  often used in commercial industries, you’ll notice that they’ve made use of predictive features for quite some time now. This is accomplished through big data.

One of the most promising things that more powerful mapping tech can do is provide incredibly detailed predictions. In other words, Google Maps will be able to offer much better recommendations for restaurants and places to visit, other than just places you’ve been.

Furthermore, when used in combination with Google Maps’ new offline feature, Driving Mode can offer truly hands-free and autonomous navigation support. In the past, the app would stop offering GPS directions when wireless signal was lost. This can be bothersome if you’re in the middle of a trip, and you don’t want to take your hands off the wheel.

Now, users can download maps while they’re online, so they may be accessed even offline later. These maps apply to Driving Mode, and can be used normally. So, if you activate Driving Mode and happen into a wireless dead zone, the application and driving directions won’t be affected.

All this aside, you could make the argument that the new Driving Mode is creepy, and is yet another way Google – and powerful tech companies like it – is working to build a personal profile on you. It just depends on what side of the fence you stand.

Still, there’s no denying the incredible potential of this new feature. It will be interesting to see how Google steps up its game and takes Maps even further after this update.

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