July 25, 2006
The latest version of Google Maps for mobile will enable users in the U.S. to view comprehensive information on traffic conditions in more than 30 major metropolitan areas–and partial information in many others–right from their mobile devices. To get information on traffic conditions in a particular area — including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York City — users simply move to the desired location within the application and select “show traffic” in the menu. The most up-to-date traffic information will be sent directly to the users’ mobile device, and will highlight the conditions on the covered commuter routes using red, yellow, and green overlays.
In addition, when mobile phone users search for driving directions, they will now see the expected drive time as well as any unexpected traffic delays, making travel planning much easier and more effective.
Now the question is why isn’t this feature on Google Maps?
My first thought was that this was a great application that would compete with such applications as those application provided in some vehicles that have real-time traffic in their navigation units (like Acuras and Cadillacs)..except this one was free of recurring monthly payments. I tried it out and it was *very* slow…almost to the point that it was an impractical application (response time slower than the time it takes to drive that area). Most people I know will, instead, continue to use scripts that have already prefetched sigalert data from the caltrans site, have the image presliced to fit within their phone’s browser, and put up on their own webserver for nice, zippy response times.