If you’re already using the Google Maps Navigation app on your Android device, you’ll have a sweet surprise coming to you: The app can now avoid bad traffic. Interestingly, this will not rely solely on up-to-the-minute data. From the Google Mobile blog:
Starting today, our routing algorithms will also apply our knowledge of current and historical traffic to select the fastest route from those alternates. That means that Navigation will automatically guide you along the best route given the current traffic conditions.
The feature is, however, limited to areas in Europe and North America where real-time traffic conditions are available.
Traffic avoidance is being introduced as an automatic feature — meaning that the app will be taking traffic data into account as soon as you fire it up. This might be jarring for some users, especially those who only use navigation for a portion of their trip (I am completely guilty of ignoring my GPS as it re-calculates while I drive to the edge of my geographical knowledge). Google does point out, though, that using the app may make driving better for everyone by keeping users out of sprawling traffic jams.
This kind of traffic avoidance technology has been available on dedicated GPS devices for some time, though almost always as a paid feature. Bringing this capability to the masses will certainly make companies like Garmin nervous, and hopefully get people to their destinations faster.