Google Maps finally returns to Apple Watch, gets CarPlay Update

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It’s been a while since Google Maps was available on the Apple Watch. Fortunately for users of the world’s most popular smartwatch, Google’s navigation features are making a return. Maps will be rolling out for watchOS in the coming weeks.

Google is also making some changes to its CarPlay version of Maps that should give users a cleaner, more intuitive experience. That’s a refreshing bit of news for drivers that prefer to use it over Apple’s native navigation features.

Welcome Back to the Apple Watch

A few years ago, the Apple Watch and Google Maps lived in harmony. That changed inexplicably in 2017 when Google dropped its support for watchOS. Fortunately, Maps will make a return over the next few weeks. Google says it plans to roll out a new version of the software to Apple’s wearable that will allow users to get walking, cycling, and driving directions.

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However, users shouldn’t expect a full-fledged Maps experience. The updated app is designed specifically to provide directions to known places. For instance, users can set locations for their home, work, school, and similarly frequented destinations ahead of time. They’ll be able to get directions on their wrist quickly to these pre-saved locations. Notably, the app will also work with public transit.

If Apple Watch users want to navigate to other destinations, they’ll be able to do so after starting the process on their phone. Google says that users can then “pick up where you left off on your watch.”

Although a full-blown version of Maps isn’t coming to the Apple Watch, the compact rollout should still be very helpful. That’s especially true for users who avoid driving or who are acclimating to a new area.

The update comes at the perfect time, which is certainly no coincidence. Apple Watch just enjoyed its best-ever non-holiday quarter in terms of sales. Moreover, Apple Maps is slowly becoming a more capable navigation offering. That makes it a much more competitive offering for people who are already using Apple’s ecosystem of devices.

For Google, an updated Maps app for the Apple Watch could help it retain some iOS users.

CarPlay Upgrade

In addition to Maps’ watchOS revamp, the navigation app is getting a slight upgrade for Apple’s CarPlay. After first introducing support for third-party apps with iOS 12, CarPlay has gradually opened up to external software.

The thing to note here is that iOS 13.4 now supports third-party apps on the dashboard. That’s important for CarPlay users that prefer Google Maps over Apple’s offering. A frequent frustration involves getting kicked back to Apple Maps via the CarPlay dashboard.

That should no longer be an issue thanks to the new update. Users will be able to utilize Google Maps while seeing their media controls or calendar events at the same time. This is possible thanks to CarPlay’s split-screen functionality and Google’s Maps update to support the feature.

It’s a nice touch that, again, could help Google retain some iOS users.

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