Hidden Google Maps Feature: What Does the Blue Area Represent?

Hidden Google Maps Feature: What Does the Blue Area Represent?

Have you ever seen the blue outline on Google Maps? Here's what it is and why you should you use it.

Many features in Google Maps remain unexplored. This is understandable, as some are hidden away in submenus, while others might only be available temporarily for testing. It is not unsurprising if you haven't seen this next one. 

The blue area feature, also referred to as "Travel Time" is a perfect example of this. It can be displayed as an overlay on the current map. It is a really useful tool, although it still seems to be in active development and isn't immediately obvious how to access it. 

This blue outline indicates how far you can travel from a chosen location within a given time, both by car and on foot. By default the action radius is set to 15 minutes, but you can extend it to 30 minutes, which naturally enlarges the blue area. 

"Travel Time" is currently only available on the desktop browser version of Google Maps. You can find the "Travel Time" feature under the overlays in the map tools. First, go to "Layers" and then "More." The "Travel Time" option will now appear, and you can activate it with another click.

The blue area will then appear on the map section, and an additional menu will show at the bottom of the screen. There, you can choose between "Car" and "On foot"

Unfortunately, the current traffic isn't considered, which would be helpful, nor are public transport options included in the "Travel Time" feature. It works best for traveling on foot, which when exploring a new city is very useful. 

The "Travel Time" tool can be helpful when searching for hotels, attractions, or restaurants, especially in an unfamiliar area. Unfortunately, this feature is not yet available on iOS or Android. This tool would arguably be more useful on a smartphone than on the desktop. 

It remains to be seen whether or not and in what form this tool will be integrated into the mobile apps. This feature was initially added to the web version last year and hasn't yet made the jump to mobile devices. If Google deems that it isn't sufficiently useful, it is possible that the "Travel Time" feature is simply removed in a future update.