Google Maps testing a floating search category bar

The bar has six category bubbles users can tap to start a search

Google Maps

Google is reportedly testing a new floating category bar in Maps, according to a report from Android Police.

The category bar appears to be in fairly limited tests currently. Only one users has reported seeing the feature so far. We were unable to reproduce the new feature on our devices.

The category bar sits just below the search bar in Maps (left). It features six categories: restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and hospitals. Each category gets its own little bubble, too. Tapping the bubble performs a search for that item. Users can also scroll left and right through the bubbles.

Google Maps category bar on left vs. no bar on right

Reports also say the feature is a little buggy. The category bar doesn’t always appear when launching the app. However, the area where the bar no longer responds to input if the category bar isn’t present.

Overall functionality isn’t much different from just opening the Explore tab and selecting one of those same options. That said, it seems to be a simply more convenient option.

The new feature may be part of the updates Google announced at I/O. The category bubbles may surface alongside more significant new features like the new visual navigation system, or the recommendations tool.

Its uncertain if this feature will see a wider roll-out beyond the initial test. If it does, I’d like to see the category and search bar come down to the bottom of the display. With phones getting increasingly taller, it would make it much easier to reach and use.

Image credit: Android Police

Source: Android Police