Google Maps, which is continually releasing new features and updates to further improve the experience for its millions of users, reportedly has another one in the pipeline that will focus on making navigation at night safer.
XDA Developers spotted code in the Google Maps v10.31.0 beta that reveals the Lighting Layer, which will show streets that have good lighting. Activating the feature will highlight well-lit streets in yellow, and there will also be indicators for streets with poor to no lighting.
Google Maps’ Lighting Layer will eventually join a long list of features for the navigation app, which has increasingly become a versatile tool for travelers. Google recently started experimenting with placing Local Guides in the For You section for easy-to-access travel tips, and has added to the app certain capabilities of Google Translate to make it easier to move around in foreign countries.
Unfortunately, there are no images of the feature in action, as it’s still under development. There’s also no telling if the feature will be available worldwide, or limited strictly to specific regions. Another missing piece of information is how Google intends to source street lighting data, or keep the service up-to-date.
Given the code that was uncovered, it seems likely that it will arrive at some point in the future. XDA Developers speculates that it may be rolled out in India first, in response to the spate of recent brutal attacks and rapes of women who have made headlines in the country.
Back in June, Maps introduced a “Stay Safer” feature in India which notified users if their driver has strayed away from the expected route.
Some of the features rolled out by Google Maps this year that focus on the safety of its users include improved voice guidance and verbal announcements for users who are blind or have limited vision, and a new navigation warning system on natural disasters that will lead people away from potentially dangerous situations.
One open question is how Google will gather information about street lighting conditions. Infrastructure including smart street lights is still rare, so the company may collect user-submitted data similar to the way it does for traffic incidents.