Google Maps adds high-def maps for Volvo and Polestar EVs


With CES 2023 in full swing, Google has a few announcements of its own, including two new features for Google Maps navigation. However, not all Google Maps fans will be able to enjoy the new functionalities, as they concern two specific platforms.

First of all, Google is making Google Maps navigation possible without a smartphone on Wear OS devices. Secondly, Google will start rolling out high-definition maps and navigation to cars that come with Google built-in.

Wearable devices can handle Google Maps navigation, but you need a phone to do it. That’s no longer the case for Wear OS devices thanks to Google’s recent work. Users who own an LTE Wear OS watch can now turn on Google Maps navigation directly on the wearable. That means you can leave your smartphone behind and still use Google Maps.

Using Google Maps on a wearable isn’t the ideal experience for navigation, but it can come in handy on runs, for example. The obvious issue with this new navigation functionality is that you need an active internet connection. That’s why only LTE Wear OS devices can support standalone navigation.

Using Google Maps for navigation in the car is a more common experience for most people. And Google wants to upgrade the whole thing to eliminate the smartphone from the process. That means using Google Maps built into the car’s operating system.

Google Maps HD in Volvo
Google Maps HD in Volvo Image source: Volvo

Per The Verge, Google Automotive Services refers to a car that has Google apps and services preinstalled, including Maps, Assistant, and the Play Store. This is separate from Android Automotive. The only way to get high-definition Maps navigation is by buying a car that runs Google Automotive Services.

Google is bringing HD maps to Maps navigation to cars with Google Automotive Services support. However, the high-definition maps will only be available on the Volvo EX90 and the Polestar 3 for now.

“The HD map delivers precise road details like lane markers, signs and road barriers to support automakers’ assisted and autonomous driving technology for safer, more hands-free driving on select roadways,” Google explained in an announcement.

Separately, Google’s Waze app is available on select Renault vehicles and will come to more cars that launch with Google built-in. The app is available via the Android Automotive OS.

As The Verge points out, some carmakers will ship cars with Android Automotive but won’t use Google Automotive Services. Stellantis is one such example. Others will embrace both offerings, including GM, Renault, and Ford.

Finally, Google’s big Android Auto redesign is also rolling out. Here’s everything you need to know about it.


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