The excellent navigation mode of Google Maps has turned the free app into an invaluable tool for hundreds of millions of drivers worldwide. Starting today, drivers on India’s notoriously congested roads can use Google Maps to steer away from the worst jams, in real time.
Launching today in India, Google Maps’ traffic alerts have been available in the United States since May 2015. When users enter a destination, the app warns them about any segments with heavy traffic on route. Based on the explanation, users are able to pick alternate routes that are longer, but may actually be more convenient.
Google Maps will also warn users about rough conditions arising due to heavy traffic, construction work, or accidents, after they begin their trip. A vocal alert will describe the situation and give the driver the option to re-route.
Google has worked hard to adapt its app catalog to better cater to India’s fast growing mobile user base, which CEO Sundar Pichai has singled out as a priority for the next years. One area of focus has been adding offline access to apps that had typically relied on internet connections, including YouTube and Google Maps. The latter received offline navigation back in November 2015. But Google is also trying to bring more people online in India and South Asia, with initiatives like free WiFi in hundreds of rail stations or balloon-powered internet access for the entire nation of Sri Lanka.