In the coming weeks, Google Maps on Android will have a new minimap widget that will highlight local traffic conditions at a glance on your smartphone.

In a blog post (opens in a new tab) highlighting the best features of Google Widgets on Android, the California tech giant unveiled a new Google Maps widget called Near Traffic.

As the name suggests, Nearby Traffic will be displayed on your home screen and will give you traffic details for nearby roads by highlighting sections of the road in green, orange or red. You can use it to notice if there's a sudden traffic jam or accident in your neighborhood, so you can make plans to leave earlier than you should (or take an alternate route).

You'll also be able to zoom in and out to get a more local and general view of the traffic you're in without the tedious process of opening the app each time.

Your location will also be highlighted with a small blue dot that moves across the map as you change locations.

This turns the nearby traffic map into a video game-style mini-map that can give you a quick overview of your location layout without having to reconfigure the app each time.

(Image credit: Google)

The new widget will be released in the coming weeks and will be available on Android smartphones when it is. There's no official word on whether a similar feature will be coming to Google Maps on iPhone at the same time, but we've reached out to Google for more information.

We know that widgets aren't the flashiest tool in your smartphone's arsenal, but they can seriously help you get the most out of the apps you love to use.

As noted in the same blog post as the minimap news, several other Google apps can provide useful services right on your home screen.

Google Keep users can use a widget that provides easy access to their to-do list, while Google Translate shows them their favorite translations.

The latter is perfect for your next trip. Not only can you save common words and phrases, but you can also prepare emergency translations (for words like hospital or doctor) so you can communicate your urgent needs.

The Google Translate widget showing a user's favorite translations

(Image credit: Google)

Google is not the only company that is dedicated to widgets. Express VPN (our favorite VPN service) gives you a quick button to activate your VPN without opening the app. Pokemon Go can show you how far you've traveled with your friend, or how close your eggs are to hatching new creatures.

Most apps have a widget, and you can find out what's available by holding your finger on an app icon until the menu appears.

Share This