If you’re thinking about escaping the humdrum this summer, multiple apps are promoting new features that should make traveling a little easier or safer, but your mileage on each may vary depending on what routes you take, and whether you’re flying solo.
Google Maps announced it had finally introduced a feature to show toll prices for both Android and iOS users. The toll prices are available on just 2,000 roads in the U.S., Japan, and Indonesia, though the company promised more countries “coming soon.”
The app shows the estimated price based on whether you have a toll pass or not, the day of the week, and the time you’re expected to pass through the toll. You’ll have to go into the app’s settings to change whether it shows you the price with or without a toll pass. The new feature was originally announced back in April. There’s likely a few features of Google Maps that might make life easier if you’re planning on travel this summer.
When we tried the app, we found that it showed toll prices for some roads leading from our office in New York City, but not others. The app showed the toll price for the Lincoln Tunnel going west toward Pennsylvania. It did not offer toll prices if you decide to take the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge when traveling north through the Bronx.
Google has said they have focused on the majority of roads with “static toll prices” compared to dynamic toll prices. This may limit the display of toll prices on various roads with tolls. Of the nations dozens of specialty lanes, for example, only one has a fixed price.
Airbnb also announced new app features on Monday for solo travelers. When booking, the app can send a trusted contact the location and itinerary for where you’re staying. For those who book as a solo guest, the app promotes a “one-touch” ability to share the date of check-in, check-out, and address of the property.
In addition, the app should offer you suggestions for questions you can ask hosts after a reservation is confirmed. The prompts show up in the text, and include questions about the neighborhood, whether there will be other people at the location, and whether there will be help available during the stay.
It accompanies a rash of people who have decided to travel alone in recent years, likely due to the extended pandemic quarantines. The company’s news post said that 26% of all nights booked in 2021 were from people going solo, while over 50% of nights booked for long-term stays in the first quarter of this year were also going alone. So with that growth of travelers and the rash of Airbnb listings (that reportedly outnumber apartments in New York City) these features could be more useful.
It’s clear staying at a stranger’s home can sometimes come with added anxieties or uncertainties. A Twitter user who goes by @foxytaughtyou wrote on Sunday that she and a friend stayed in a Philadelphia Airbnb that had hidden cameras posted around the bedroom and bathroom. A company spokesperson told the Independent that they had suspended the host and removed the listing while investigating the report. Airbnb has since told Gizmodo that the lead detective on the case did not find any hidden or undisclosed cameras at the property. The spokesperson went on to say that they thoroughly looked into this allegation as they do for all safety reports, and supported the guest while also offering a refund.
When asked if the company has any plans to expand the feature beyond solo travelers, a spokesperson for Airbnb said “right now, our focus is on developing and improving this feature for solo travelers, and then we’ll consider whether this is a concept we can expand to other types of travelers.”
The feature is initially only available to English-speaking guests, but the company wrote it will introduce the feature in more countries and languages over time, and will eventually expand to entire home listings.
“Our hope is this new product will better equip solo travelers on Airbnb to be more informed travelers by getting their pre-trip questions answered, giving them a better understanding of their surroundings, and informing the important people in their lives about where they will be and for how long,” the company wrote.
Update 6/14/2022, 5:52 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with new information from Airbnb regarding the alleged hidden cameras in a Philadelphia listing as well as new info regarding Google’s toll feature.