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Tip: Google Maps Traffic Widgets Can Save You Some Serious Time

This could be old news, but for those of you with long commutes and that are not familiar with Google Maps and its Traffic widget, you’ll want to pay attention.  With this widget, you can set up a variety of locations that will in real-time, update to show you how long it may take you to get there depending on your current location.  So as you can see, I’ve set up a few including a BBQ spot across town.  According to Google Maps and its live traffic reporting, it should take me around 17 minutes to get there in some not so friendly (red) traffic.  However, if I want to head down to Deschutes Brewery which is only 10-12 blocks away, it should take me just a couple of minutes.  

To set these up, all you have to do is open up a home screen, long press, and choose Widgets>Traffic.  After that you can name it in the first box, and then jump to the second to search for a particular location or plug in a specific address.  Simple right?

Cheers 0mie!

  • Craig Boudreaux

    No way to determine the route used, so completely impractical for me.

    How am I to know if it’s using the highway, or if it sees a wreck on the highway and decides to use an alternate route? There’s no indication.

  • Kelly Jones

    Perfect post. Here’s a tool that lets youbuild any type of web app widget in minutes, without coding http://blog.caspio.com/web_apps/widgetize-your-app-for-fame-and fortune/

  • OmId

    yeah i agree if you had to go from point A to point B and lets say you had 3 different routes that you could/would use. you should be able to select a route and find out how long it will take compared to the next dependent on time of day, traffic etc

  • I find the time estimates to be grossly optimistic. Less than 4 hours to get from Plymouth to Liverpool? Please!…

  • Guys, I found a fix for the issue of the widget not refreshing/displaying an error message when searching for directions: When I entered in the address (123 Any Street, Anytown, NC 12345) instead of the location name (Home) the widget appeared and worked perfectly. Select or enter just the address without any other info, such as a business name, and it’ll refresh and track the travel time.

  • i am a delivery guy for saladworks, used the shortcut “nav and direction” before but never this, very cool thanks DL 😀

  • Bprice48

    Interesting…. I setup a widget for my home… it says 5 minutes.  Then I went into maps and got directions.  It said 8 minutes. Wonder why there is a difference???

    • Bprice48

      neither showed traffic and were done within 30-45 seconds so traffic had not changed

  • Brkshr

    Thanks!  Didn’t know this was there

  • Brkshr

    Thanks!  Didn’t know this was there

  • digsoreos

    When you click on the widget it first refreshes the time to the destination. Click on it again and it launches Google Maps. However, it only shows you where you are on the map. It doesn’t show the destination. Because it doesn’t show the destination, there’s no way to easily get to Google Navigation mode in case you wanted directions to the destination based on your current location.

  • Tested this. The GPS will be on the entire time your phone is awake and maybe while it’s sleeping. What would be better are shortcuts that you could activate pre-plotted routes showing traffic and eta.

    • PyroHoltz

      Not if you turn off GPS, then it will default to using rough location based on cell towers.

    • LJ

      Actually it goes to sleep after awhile, until you press the widget again.

  • Don’t rape my battery, bro.

    Awesome feature but I noticed GPS firing up a lot. That ha got to mean this thing will rape your battery.

  • CyberPete

    K – I have one important question.  Why *would* you go the the BBQ spot rather than Deschutes Brewery?

  • Anonymous

    Just don’t kill your battery on your phone 🙂

  • givemeaphone

    The instruction above are wrong, and that’s why i could not find this widget initially – you have to select “Maps” first from the widget list, and then traffic. There is no “Traffic” widget under the main list of widgets.

    • Mav4Life

      I don’t have to select ‘Maps’ first on my phone…

      • Szerkie444

        I don’t have maps or traffic on my choose widget list.

        Running Android 2.3.3 and Launcher Pro.

        Any ideas?


    • Gingerbread its Long press -> Android widgets -> Traffic, so I do beg to differ sir.

  • Rachaelbrehm

    I only get “error encountered while getting directions”   🙁  

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

     This would be awesome if googles real time traffic didn’t suck, as I’m sitting in stop and go traffic with google maps showing all green again….

    •  If you don’t live in a large city, you can’t expect it to.

      • Anonymous

        Boston is pretty big.  

  • Anonymous

    For anyone who can’t find it in their widget list, try uninstalling and reinstalling Google Maps.

    It wasn’t showing up in my widget list on my Droid w/ CM7 (no Maps widgets were), but it was there after a reinstall.  As were the other two Maps widgets (Latitude and Rate Places).

  • Yoda Ky

    Not in my widget list :/

  • Guest

    How much of a battery drain is this widget? I’d think if its constantly polling GPS for your location, its going to use a lot of battery.

    • Oneshortsleeve

      My locations and GPS go into a sleep mode and is activated when clicked.

  • Oneshortsleeve

    It looks as though the widget goes into a sleep mode and can be activated by clicking it, which is pretty nice. The amount of battery this would have drained horrified me until I saw this feature.

  • Lakerzz

    Awesome widget, but once again, you’re awesome wallpaper looks like it just might steal the show. 😛

  • Lakerzz

    Awesome widget, but once again, you’re awesome wallpaper looks like it just might steal the show. 😛

  • For some reason, I can’t find it on my D1…

    • Tom Crews

      I’ve got an original Motorola Droid (running SnkBitten2.3.3) and checked it out this morning……setup the widget and then showed it to a friend. 

      My Gtablet (running CM7.03) has the traffic widget available as well..

      • Hmm, the widget isn’t even in the list for me.

  • Guest

    The Minutes the trip will take is way off?  I’m at work and its saying to get to work will take 28 minutes?  Any help?  Am I missing a certain option under ‘location and security settings’?

  • Anonymous

    Anyone else notice your location is wayyy more accurate with GPS off than it was in the past?  It use to plot me anywhere within 2-3 miles of my true location, now it seems like it is within a half mille, making this widget that much more 

    • Anonymous

      what phone? 2-3 miles sounds like you’re using cell towers for location? that’s how it is for me, if the GPS antenna is off. w/ GPS on, it’s pretty spot on for location.

  • Sir Lancelot the Brave

    Hey kellex, any chance of getting that wallpaper? 🙂

  • Anonymous

    mmmmmmmmm…. Rogue!

  • Anonymous


  • Is that running CM7? lol

  • pretty cool. Now I can take a shit longer before heading to work.. nice!

  • Fling62

    Where can I get this wall paper 🙂

  • Stopandgo

    But the widget doesn’t show the travel time on my desktop.  It only shows the distance.   Is there a way to make it show the minutes instead of the miles?

  • Christianpeso

    Can i get a link to the wallpaper?

  • John

    weird you’re posting about this. i just noticed that widget this morning too

  • Unexpected62

    Does tapping it launch driving directions to that location? that would be sexxxxx

    • Ha! Mcmenamins… That’s funny 

    • Jason Rayner

      Yes Tapping the widget brings you to the navigation map! Pretty sweet!

  • Mmoreimi

    I want it to work…I really do. It’s just not accurate. It’s delayed.

  • Faceonahead

    why does home show zzz does that mean you can turn the widgets on and off?

  • I can not find it on mine either. i don’t know what to do,

  • garrett sullivan

    Why did I never hear about this feature until now?

  • That’s a GSII isn’t it Kellex! I recognize TouchWiz’s virtual keyboard. I am jealous.

  • i don’t have that on mine. how do i get it? i have the evo 4g.

    • Anonymous

      In the widget list, there is a google maps option. It should be under that. Couldn’t find it myself…

      • I can not find it on mine either. i don’t know what to do,

        • Jager09

          In the widget list, it’s under traffic, not google maps.

  • Ozzzy3z

    I didn’t know this widget existed.  Thanks much!

  • Anonymous

    WARNING! This widget will rape your battery.

    • Kfath1978

      looks like gps is always on…..

      • Anonymous

        Yup. I used this a week ago, ate up 50 percent in an hour…

    • It seems that the widget goes into ‘snooze’ mode after 5-10 minutes and lays off the GPS (at least on my phone, OG Dorid).  You can ‘wake it up’ by tapping on traffic light; then GPS sensor starts polling again.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent…. let the stalking/triangulation begin muahaha

  • tommyz

    My GPS logo is flashing all the time since I put this on my Thunderbolt. I’ll bet it’s going to drain the battery when you are inside a building.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t wait for google to show all of the speed traps and field sobriety check points on major holidays and the weekends, that would be SWEEEEET!!!

    Not that I cadone drinking and driving, it’s a pain to go through. at 2am from the club 😛

  • Mr.Joe

    When the hell did this come out?

  • Kdyer4

    Wonder how much battery life this sucks up

    • Anonymous

      Read mah post.

  • Anonymous

    I found this widget a couple days ago, how long as it been around? I had never seen it before. 

    Also, all of your Portland references really make me yearn to go back home. I should move back there and review phones for you guys, sound good? 

  • Seth

    Found it.  There was a Google Maps update that must’ve rolled out recently.  If you don’t see it on your phone yet, try and go into the Market and update your Maps.  After that, check for the widget.

  • Seth

    I don’t see this traffic widget on my HTC Evo?  Help?

  • Anonymous

    Not showing up on my OG Droid with CM7 and Maps 5.6.0

    • Guest

      CM7 nests multiple widget apps, if you tap maps then you will the three maps widgets: latitude, rate places, and traffic.

  • Anonymous

    What would really make this killer would be the ability to set a specific route and monitor that.  For example, where I live there are usually many routes to get to the same destination.  Would be nice to see if one is more congested than another.

    • 0mie

      You can do that…

      • Swedish Pimple

        Do tell…this would make my day.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t see how that’s possible w/ the widget

      • digsoreos

        Yes, please explain how this can be done. We need more to go on than simply “Droid Does.” 😉

      • Greg Golightly

        yes – please tell.

    • Mwolfsonalt

      The way you would do that, is setup multiple widgets on the same screen – one each for each different route.  

  • Anonymous

    I actually suggested this feature to google about 18 months ago. Glad to see they listened!

    • Pics or it didn’t happen :-p

      • Anonymous

        Why certainly  (it turns out it was only 12 months ago that I suggested it.)

  • Anonymous

    Twilight summer ale is perfect today.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    to bad you have to have one of the more current versions of GM that is bloated with Places, Latitude, social garbage as I am still running GM 3-4 versions older

  • FortitudineVincimus

    to bad you have to have one of the more current versions of GM that is bloated with Places, Latitude, social garbage as I am still running GM 3-4 versions older

    • This

      Whine more please

  • Anonymous

    Love it. Thanks for the tip. Hadn’t seen that widget before.  Did it come with a recent update to Maps?

  • It’s not like I need another reason to love Android, but you sir have sent my heart aflutter with this tid-bit.

  • MJZ

    thats frickin awesome!  thanks

  • MJZ

    thats frickin awesome!  thanks

  • Nick

    Now the only question is Deschutes Brewery or McMenamins?

    • Anonymous

      Deschutes by far.

    • Anonymous

      Deschutes by far.

      • Anonymous

        Got a friend who works there, so I’m biased towards it. Try Obsidian, it’s like a sip of heaven.

      • Hopworks!

        • Frankly

          Lucky Lab!!!

      • I like McMenamins when I don’t care /when/ I eat or drink.

      • Anonymous

        Kellex, we/you should organize a Portland meet sometime… I think there are a lot of DL readers from ptown, and many of us like me have been around since the site was launched.. could be fun to grab a beer

    • Anonymous

      You guys are nuts.. HopValley ftw

  • Anonymous

    Too bad it doesn’t work outside of major cities.  I travel allover NorCal on work, everything north of Sacramento and Santa Rosa, and there is no traffic service anywhere in those areas. 

    • Anonymous

      It typically only works for major interstate and state highways.

  • miketb34

    What wallpaper is that

    • skaguyy

      I need to know as well! I am a huge fan of checkerboard…wonder why…

  • Mr_Brady

    Well that’s a new one I haven’t heard of. Thanks!

  • Alfalfanater

    Wouldn’t this drain your battery pretty quickly with it always updating?

  • Collin Barrett

    nice, but does this suck gps battery life all the time?

    • Anonymous

      Shouldn’t.  See the “Home” shortcut I created?  It went to sleep and stays that way until I touch it.  Once I touch it, it refreshes and tells me how long the commute would be.

      • Anonymous

        ..and it takes about .05 seconds to do so.  Very snappy and no appreciable loss of battery with 3-4 of these things running on my device.  

      • Jason Rayner

         Kellex, Where are you always getting those awesome backgrounds???? Please share!!

    • DroidX_Owner

      One way to find out….

  • Mr. Joshua

    Love it.

  • Never knew this! Nice.