Google testing new Maps feature that can save you money or even your life

Google testing new Maps feature that can save you money or even your life
Imagine that you're out of town and need to take a taxi back to the hotel. While you're looking forward to quickly getting back to the room and taking a nap, the cab driver might want to take the long way back so that he can charge you more; since you're not familiar with the area, you might not notice that he is not following the shortest route to the hotel. Or perhaps the driver has some other evil deed in mind. Google Maps is now testing a new feature that will come to the rescue by giving you an advance warning telling you that something is not kosher. Spotted by XDA, the app will now warn you whenever your driver deviates from the quickest available route by more than 500 meters (.31 miles).

To enable this feature, when you get into the cab type in the destination and tap the Stay safer button at the bottom of the screen. The .31 mile allowance should be enough to allow a driver to make small variations because of traffic, personal preference or for some other reason. If the driver stays on track, a banner on top of the screen will say "You're on route." If the driver is more than .31 miles off the route, you will get an alert on your phone. To make this new feature work, Google disables the part of Maps that automatically comes up with new directions when a turn is missed, or an alternate route is taken.

So far, Google has tested this new feature in India only, where it has also added rickshaw fares for Maps users in the same country. We'd love to see Google make this available in the U.S. just to keep cab drivers honest. Until that happens, you can enter your destination in the Google Maps app and question your cab driver every time the app reroutes you.

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