Google Maps wants to help you only breathe fresh air, and as such it’s debuting a new air quality layer in the US on both Android and iOS. This will show you what to expect, air-wise: whether it’s smoggy, smoky, otherwise bad, or simply wonderful.
With these details at your fingertips, you can make better informed decisions about whether to go outside, and if so, for how long. What you’ll see is AQI or Air Quality Index numbers, along with guidance for outdoor activities, when the information was last updated, and links to learn more.
The data comes from trusted government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US. Maps also shows air quality information from PurpleAir, a low-cost sensor network which can give you a hyperlocal view of conditions. To add this air quality layer to your map, you need to tap on the button in the top right corner of your phone’s screen, then select Air Quality under Map details. The information from PurpleAir is also available on Nest displays and speakers.
There’s also a wildfire layer available in the US as the wildfire season is approaching. This lets you see details about active fires in the area, thanks to Google partnering up with the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). For large wildfires you can also just search “wildfires near me” and the associated details will be surfaced, along with air quality information. “In the coming months”, Google search will also be adding smoke data across the US from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).