How Google Maps Shows Traffic Predictions

How Google Maps Shows Traffic Predictions
How Google Maps Shows Traffic Predictions

Have you ever wondered how Google Maps shows traffic updates on your smartphone? Learn about the amazing trick behind how Google tracks traffic on roads.

Google Maps has over million users across the world and other than satellite imagery; it offers panoramas, real-time conditions, street views, and route planning even for traveling on foot. Given such a vast user base, there’s a large amount of data being stirred in the background. This data is not only coming from users who’re traveling in real-time, but also from local authorities. But how does it work? Let’s explore the answer to this question:

How Google Maps Shows Traffic?

In brief, the answer is that Google utilizes your Android or iOS smartphone to gather information about traffic status. Basically, it doesn’t look at how many cars are traveling on a road – rather than it gets to know how many smartphones are moving along a specific path.


As you travel on a road, your smartphone send anonymous bits of data back to Google. Using this data, the app calculates your traveling speed as well as the speed of all the phones on that road. In this way, Google Maps shows traffic status, indicating whether it is snarling or smooth.


But what happens if there’s not even a single smartphone user is traveling on a road? In this case, Google Maps shows that road with white or gray color; representing that it doesn’t know about the traffic’s status. Nevertheless, given the wide popularity of smartphones, it’s often possible for the tech giant to show accurate real-time traffic situation in big cities worldwide.

Read more about Google Maps at How to use Google Maps offline

How is the Traffic Data Shown in Google Maps?

So, now we know how Google Maps shows traffic predictions. Dave Barth, the product manager of Google, explained the entire process in an official blog post. He said that Google doesn’t know the identity of a vehicle in which a phone is traveling. Also, the company doesn’t get any information about people present inside a vehicle.

To further safeguard your privacy, Google clears a few minutes of data from the start and end of a tour. As a result, it doesn’t know the origin and destination of your tour.

Google Maps shows traffic by excluding anomalies like a postman stops more often on a road to deliver letters. For this purpose, the app makes use of some algorithms. Thereby, a frequently stopping postman will not generate a traffic congestion alert in the app.


Once the enough data has collected, Google Maps shows traffic by using different colors. If the traffic is going slow on a route, the app displays it with yellow color. Smooth traffic is indicated by green color and traffic jams are marked with red color. Severe traffic jams are shown by deep red or maroon color.


When Google doesn’t have enough data to show traffic conditions, it shows the typical traffic on that location at that specific time. It shows that the app stores traffic conditions on routes in its database and utilize this data as a learning tool.

Apart from getting future traffic predictions on Google Maps, it even tells when there’s a marathon happening in a city.

Google has made a history over the last few years of what traffic is regularly like on particular roads at a given time. This means Google Maps shows traffic predictions or how traffic will change over your drive.

So, this is the logical and somewhat creepy secret behind the incredible traffic update feature of Google Maps.

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How Google Maps Shows Traffic Predictions
Have you ever wondered how Google Maps shows traffic updates in your smartphone? Learn about the amazing trick of how Google tracks traffic on roads.
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