Maybe the worst part of going through a tunnel when you’re relying on directions via GPS is the chaos as you prepare to exit the tunnel. Sometimes GPS will remember you’re on a road traveling through a tunnel and maintain the directions it was giving you when you went in, and sometimes it will go utterly stupid and remind you to proceed to the route as it shows your car happily driving through a river, a trainyard, or a series of residential homes.
But Google Maps is about to get better at showing directions inside tunnels. A new feature spotted by SmartDroid allows the Android version of the app to use Bluetooth beacons to track your location in areas where GPS signals typically can’t reach.
These beacons transmit Bluetooth signals that give location data to your phone, according to the Google-owned Waze, which already supports the feature. The app then uses this information along with the device’s mobile connectivity to “provide real-time traffic data as it would with a typical GPS connection.”
The only caveat is that the feature will only work if the tunnel you’re traveling through has Bluetooth beacons installed. Waze already has partnerships in several cities across the globe, including New York City, Chicago, Boston, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Brussels, and others, where beacons are installed. It’s not clear whether Google Maps will use the same beacons since both apps are owned by Google, but we’ve reached out to the company for more information.
To enable the feature on Google Maps, select your profile from the top-right corner of the app, and then choose Settings > Navigation Settings. Then, scroll down to the bottom of the page, toggle on Bluetooth tunnel beacons, and select Allow when Google Maps asks for permission to enable it.
As pointed out by 9to5Google, some users reported first seeing the feature in October 2023, but now it appears to be widely rolling out. We still don’t know if or when it will come to Google Maps on iOS, so if you’re an iPhone user, you will just have to continue using Waze to get directions inside tunnels.