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Google Maps solves the nagging 'What's your ETA?' problem

By Sara Ashley O'Brien

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- "Where are you?" "What's your ETA?" "When will you be here?"

Google wants to help people answer those age-old (and tiresome) questions -- without using any words at all.

On Wednesday, Google announced a Maps update that adds a new location-sharing feature. The update gives people the option to share their real-time whereabouts, and their travel routes, with select contacts for a chosen time period, according to a blog post from Google Maps engineering manager Daniel Resnick.

To share your location information, Google Maps planted a "Share Location" button in the side tab on the Maps browser (just swipe from the left part of the screen). You can also just tap the blue dot on the map that indicates your location. Then, you can chose who to share your location with -- and for how long.

Google also introduced a "share trip" feature which provides contacts with the trip route and ETA. Contacts can track a trip as it's occurring, ending with arrival at the destination.

So if you're running late to dinner, you can share your location so that the rest of your party can see where you are on your route. Or if you're driving to your parents' house, you can share your location and ETA with your mom so she doesn't worry about you.

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Don't worry about sharing your location forever: You can stop broadcasting at any time.

Google also introduced several other updates to other apps on Wednesday, including adding file sharing to its messaging app Allo, audio calls to its video chat service Duo, and improvements to Google Photos backup capabilities.

The idea isn't novel. Apple's default Find My Friends app lets people locate your friends and family from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, or iCloud, and people can also share their whereabouts on iMessage, which pulls from Apple's Maps. But Google Maps is by far the most-used app for directions, and its ETA sharing is unique.

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