A new “transit navigation” feature in Google Maps 5.7 for Android helps unfamiliar riders use transit systems and helps familiar riders nap, read, or otherwise divert their attention. The feature allows passengers to follow their journey along the planned route, and notifies them when to get off, either to tranfer or to arrive at their destination.
“Transit Navigation uses GPS to determine your current location along your route and alerts you when it’s time to get off or make a transfer,” said Google software engineer Chris Van Der Westhuizen. “This is particularly helpful if you’re in a city where you don’t speak the language and can’t read the route maps or understand the announcements.”
Since the feature uses GPS to determine locations, it only works for above-ground transit, not subways.
The transit navigation feature works in the background: users can browse the web, make phone calls, and use other applications while still receiving alerts.
Transit navigation is another way in which mapping features for Android have surpassed features available on other platforms. Google Maps for Android features include free turn-by-turn driving directions, transit navigation, 3D view, MyMaps and other unique features. As an iPhone user, I’m hoping that some of these features will find their way into the Maps application on the iPhone. In the meantime, I use Google Maps through my phone’s web-browser for biking directions.
The transit navigation feature appears to have generated a fair amount of press, which is great for public transportation.