How navigation apps are adapting to new mobility options

It will soon be easier to plan bike routes thanks to lane breakdown information. — AFP Relaxnews

Navigation apps have long offered specific routes for cyclists or electric car owners. However, there’s still much to do to facilitate their journeys.

To this end, Google is starting to roll out new features to its Maps application. From now on, a greater amount of practical information will be provided in the application for cyclists. This is currently the case for London, Berlin and Amsterdam, and should soon be extended to cover other major cities.

For any given bike route, users are shown the different types of roads used and their overall percentage in the total route. For example, Google Maps might tell you that your bike route will be composed of 50% cycle paths, 25% main roads, 15% secondary roads and 10% shared paths. This information features just above the route gradient, giving cyclists an idea of how tiring it might be.

A colour code should also help cyclists better understand their route, with segregated bike trails shown in dark green, dedicated bike lanes on roads shared with cars shown in light green, and bike-friendly roads shown in a green dotted line. In the case of shared roads, Maps should also indicate the expected traffic volume.

But the leading maps and navigation application does not intend to stop there, with new features planned to help electric car owners plan for long trips. According to 9To5Google, Maps could soon schedule battery charging stops, and if necessary, signal when a trip could be tricky if there are no public charging stations available.

When planning long routes, alerts could be displayed, such as "by the time you get there, your battery will be low", "charging stop needed to reach destination" or "there aren’t enough compatible charging stations to get to your destination."

Rival Apple Maps progressively rolled out cycling directions in its app last year, with the entire USA covered as of last August, while several European and Middle East territories also got the update last year. Australia is the latest to get cycling directions on Apple Maps last month.

Note that it is currently already possible to indicate in Google Maps that you are driving an electric vehicle and to specify the type of plug that the car uses, while Apple Maps integrated EV routing with the iOS update. – AFP Relaxnews

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