Google has enhanced its Google Maps mobile application by adding traffic information and the ability to save routes.
Google Maps, which can be downloaded for free to mobile devices from http://www.google.com/gmm, will update itself automatically for existing users, said Gummi Hafsteinsson, a Google product manager.
When users enter a route, Google Maps will now indicate traffic flow along the way by tracing segments in green, yellow or red. A green segment has normal traffic flow, yellow indicates some congestion and red signals heavy traffic. Based on the traffic condition, the application also estimates driving time.
The traffic data is constantly updated and comes from a variety of sources. It is available for about 30 major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, Hafsteinsson said.
The PC version of Google Maps, at http://maps.google.com, doesn't offer the traffic-flow feature yet, although it will be added later on, he said.
Also new is a feature that lets users save routes they take on a regular basis, like their commute to work, allowing them to call them up more easily, Hafsteinsson said. Unlike the traffic information, which is U.S.-only, this feature is also available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Although Google gives the application away, mobile carriers may apply charges related to its use and data transfers.
A list of mobile devices that support Google Maps is here: http://google.com/gmm/devices.html