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Google Maps finally adds Waze's in-tunnel navigation feature

It's now available widely on Android, though it's not on iOS.

Thomas Winz via Getty Images

Google has finally copied the homework of its other GPS app Waze, adding support for Bluetooth beacons so you can navigate in tunnels or other satellite dead zones, 9to5Google has reported. The feature has rolled out widely on Google Maps for Android, though is still missing in the iOS version.

As a reminder, Bluetooth beacons are designed to give you navigation and traffic info underground where GPS signals can't get through. Also known as Waze Beacons, they're "battery-operated, low-energy micro-controller hardware that sends a one-way signal to a user's phone or tablet" without capturing any data from the user, according to Google. They're installed underground in a number of cities include New York City, Paris, Sydney, Rio and elsewhere. Waze first launched the feature in 2016.

Google Maps finally adds Bluetooth Beacons support so you can navigate in tunnels
Google Maps finally adds Bluetooth Beacons support so you can navigate in tunnels (Steve Dent/Engadget)

The function isn't enabled by default, so here's how to turn it on. In Maps, go to Settings > Navigation Settings and then find the "Driving Options" near the bottom of the list. Under those, you'll see Bluetooth tunnel beacons (provided you have the latest version), and you can toggle that on.

The feature first started showing up for some beta and other users in October 2023, but is now in the primary release. It should smooth navigation considerably, particularly in tricky tunnels with multiple lanes and exits. It's the latest in a flurry of new features that include EV charging information, AI capabilities, Immersive View and more.