Google Maps’ Mobile App Now Gives Real-Time Air Quality Updates

published Jun 27, 2022
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With summer in full swing, you might be planning to head to the great outdoors for plenty of warm weather adventures ahead. But given that it’s also wildfire season in the U.S., staying informed about the air quality conditions in your area remains of utmost importance no matter what your outdoor plans entail.

Thankfully, Google Maps is making it easier than ever to remain aware and alert about your local air quality, introducing a few new ways to determine what it’s looking like right outside your door. Not only have they launched a new dedicated air quality layer on the Google Maps mobile app, the existing wildfire layer which shows you the air quality (AQI), a measure of how healthy or (unhealthy) the air is based on pollution levels — these indices are backed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Weather Service and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). It will also display data from the Environmental Protection Agency, along with PurpleAir, a sensor network that provides hyper-local air quality data.

Using the new tool is simple — you’ll just open up the Google Maps app and either tap the arrow button in the bottom right of the screen to pinpoint your current location, or type your destination in the search bar. Then, you’ll press the layers button in the top right under the search bar to bring up the layers menu, where you’ll see the new air quality and wildfire layers. Google will share the index with information about the air quality in your specified location. It’s available for use on both Android and iOS devices, as well as on Google Nest devices.

If you’re checking the conditions before you head out, you can simply search “air quality near me” in a standard Google search on your device, receiving up-to-date wildfire crisis alerts if air quality is poor. Soon to come later this summer, Google will add smoke data from NOAA across the U.S., which will also be available in Google search and in the mobile app.

So whether you’re camping, hiking, or simply heading out for a brief stroll, you’ll feel better knowing exactly how safe it is to do so — a must, given that wildfires and air quality have been getting worse around the globe in recent years.