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Google Maps wants to help users avoid getting stuck in the rain

March 30, 2021, 10:00 AM UTC

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Google Maps is warming up to weather, further taking on weather app incumbents. 

Users, who can currently see the temperature in cities through the service, will soon be able to also check out more detailed weather conditions, plus get a seven-day forecast. The weather data will be provided by The Weather Company, the weather forecasting company IBM bought in 2016 in a deal reportedly worth $2 billion. 

Google Maps’ weather feature, announced Tuesday, is expected to debut in the coming months, according to the company.

For more than a year, Google Maps users have been able to use the service to see current temperatures, but nothing beyond that. With the update, they’ll be able to see how long it will be sunny or rainy, while checking also out driving directions and satellite images.

The new feature extends Google’s foray into weather, an already intensely competitive category with players like AccuWeather, Apple’s weather app, and The Weather Channel’s app, the most-used mobile weather app that’s also owned by the Weather Company. But Google Maps is betting that the combination of navigation and weather information in one app will differentiate it from the others.

Google Maps’ weather feature is still fairly basic, however. For example, it doesn’t yet provide radar images, which would help users see how close rain clouds may be. It also doesn’t include detailed information about the dew point, visibility, or the UV index.

Google Maps will, however, tell users about a location’s air quality such as allergens, smog, and smoke through a separate air quality feature powered by partners including the U.S. government’s AirNow and the Central Pollution Board in India. Google Maps plans to initially debut the air quality feature in the U.S., Australia, and India. 

Also on Tuesday, Google Maps announced an expansion of its augmented reality feature, called Live View, to help people find their way inside certain transit stations, malls, and airports. Maps users will also be able to tap the service help choose between the fastest routes and the most fuel-efficient routes that are more eco-friendly. And Google Maps is teaming up with Fred Meyer, a division of The Kroger Co., to make grocery pickup easier by notifying users when their order is ready and telling them where to park.