Google Maps introduced another brand-new feature for India on Wednesday with its “Stay Safer” feature. Part of the latest version of Google Maps, this feature allows Android phone users travelling in auto-rickshaws or taxis to share their live location with their family or friends, and also alerts them if their vehicle is going off-route.
Once a user has selected a destination and chosen a route, he or she can enable this feature by selecting the “Stay Safer” and “Get off-route alert” options from the menu. The phone will then automatically buzz if the vehicle goes more than 0.5 km off the route suggested by Maps, and users can tap to see where they are as compared to the suggested route. They can then live-share the screen with friends or family to help them keep track of the journey.
Amanda Bishop, product manager at Google Maps, said of the feature “Through our extensive research across India, we found that a lot of people limit their mobility due to safety-related concerns. To address this, we are launching another India-first feature that will deliver a more relevant and reliable experience to our users. Our new ‘Stay Safer’ feature on Google Maps will alert users who are travelling in taxis, auto-rickshaws, etc. in case their vehicle goes off route, giving them peace of mind.”
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Previously, Uber and Ola have also rolled out new safety features following repeated incidents of harassment by cab aggregator drivers. While Uber introduced its Safety Toolkit in 2018 allowing riders to share their rides and read about Uber’s driver screening processes, Ola has piloted Ola Guardian, a real-time monitoring system that tracks deviations and unexpected stops and provides on-the-spot assistance to riders. The new “Stay Safer” feature, however, could provide a quicker and easier solution to ride tracking and sharing on Uber or Ola, as users can compare Maps-suggested routes with the driver’s route on the app and share updates instantly.
Google also recently launched three India-centric public transport features, allowing users to check train schedules, bus travel times and mixed-mode commute suggestions in real time based on traffic data from Google Maps.