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Google Powers Alternative Traffic Routes on Android Phones

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author photo by Autotrader March 2011

Thanks to the latest technology innovation from Google, some drivers may never again have to worry about getting caught in a traffic jam – at least not an unexpected one.

The company recently announced that its Android Maps Navigation app will now display real-time traffic updates. Even better news for drivers is that their current route will automatically be redirected to alternative routes that save the most time, with the least amount of traffic. The Android phone even has a car dock that allows users to navigate by voice.

An app that offers real-time traffic results has been long awaited by drivers and automakers eager to offer more advanced pre-equipped navigation systems. However many are also skeptical and wondering how the seemingly omnipresent Google is collecting this information.

The company says that it is constantly monitoring real-time traffic congestion as well as historical traffic patterns for that time of day. Although the innovator doesn't exactly say how they are collecting the data, a post on their blog from 2009, says that the information comes from everyone on the road with Google Maps mobile with GPS enabled on their phone.

"When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic condition," wrote Dave Barth, Product Manager for Google Maps.

While traffic jams have always been a nuisance for the typical American driver, a recent study says that traffic congestion has increased a whopping 11% from 2010. This, coupled with the fact that gas prices are rapidly nearing the $3.50 mark, is forcing motorists to think twice about how much time they spend on the road, in efforts to save not only time, but as much gas money as possible.

This may be great news for drivers, but it will be interesting to see how already failing traditional GPS gadgets will adapt to (or evolve with) the change in technology. Mobile GPS systems have already posed a huge threat to companies like Garmin and TomTom, and Google's addition of real-time traffic rerouting does not help their case.

Automakers will no doubt adopt this new feature. Saab is already equipping its new IQon in-car entertainment system with Android technology. At any rate, drivers should be happy to find any excuse to spend less time stuck in traffic and equally less time filling gas tanks.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Google Powers Alternative Traffic Routes on Android Phones - Autotrader