Last month, Google announced that Maps is coming back to watchOS after leaving the platform in 2017. Google Maps for Apple Watch is now available following the latest update.
On the Apple Watch, Google Maps is focused on providing step-by-step directions, as well as estimated arrival times. The app’s primary screen shows your “Current trip,” while there’s a list of “Travel times” below. This includes Home, Work, and any other saved shortcuts/destinations.
You cannot directly input a new location from the wearable, with Google directing users to the phone app and then continuing on the Apple Watch. The watchOS client supports navigating by car, bike, public transit, or walking, and users can “Set travel mode” directly from their wrist.
Possible routes are then offered, with Google taking advantage of the same icons from the full app.
Once selected, directions are displayed in cards with big icons for turning and to identify the current mode of transportation. The app takes advantage of haptics to provide guidance during navigation, while there is a standard, system-level shortcut on the watch face to quickly return to the scrollable list view. There’s also a Google Maps complication, featuring the app icon, that just directly opens the app.
Despite the name, live maps are not actually displayed in the wearable app, unlike with Apple Maps. Meanwhile, the Watch app is particularly reliant on having a stable connection to your iPhone.
Google Maps for Apple Watch is rolling out with version 5.52 on the App Store.