While bike riding is commonly thought of as an urban pursuit--bike riding to anywhere of significance in the country can take hours--or a pursuit taken so close to home that directions are unnecessary, there are still plenty of people out there who consider bicycling to be an adventure. For those people, Google (News - Alert) quietly pushed out an update to Google Maps for Android that looks to be a big help for cyclists who like the thought of getting out in unfamiliar spaces, just them and their bike.
The new update allows for spoken, turn-by-turn directions to emerge from Google Maps Navigation, but with a bit of a catch. It only works with those countries where biking directions exist. Most recently, a variety of European countries caught this particular update themselves, including Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and several others.
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Those wanting the newest version should precede to Google Play, at last report, to lay hands on it, though based on some reports updates for the app, even in those countries that should have support for same, has been a bit on the spotty side. Thus, regularly checking in with Google Play for when the update lands in an individual area is likely to be the best course of action. Still, between partnerships with organizations like the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, as well as the volunteer efforts of several cyclists, Google's updates should be both forthcoming and valuable for some time to come.
While this is a rather niche application--pretty much bicyclists only need apply--for urban areas this will likely prove to be an update of extraordinary value. Trail bicyclists as well will almost certainly see the value in being able to find at least some measure of civilization no matter where they are in a wooded environment where one particular patch of square footage can look a whole lot like every other patch in the immediate area.
So for those who mean to use their Labor Day weekend to get a little biking in, or just plan to do so before the season itself is gone, Google may have just what's needed in wait with the newest update to Google Maps for Android.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman