Originally Posted by Roboman
It's not a new feature, but it's not one people use very often, either. I mean, the entire point of Google Maps is to give you the most direct route, so why would people change it?
Because Google isn't very good at picking up on local factors that affect travel speed, such as traffic density, construction, and road closures/re-openings. It'll also always pick the route that is fastest according to its calculations, which is sometimes significantly longer in terms of distance. I've had Google suggest routes that were 1 minute faster and over a mile longer (or more). In reality I find the shorter routes tend to be just as fast, but it depends on really minor things like whether you get lucky hitting the lights or not.
It also won't advise you to take a parallel side street instead of a light-filled main drag in order to avoid traffic lights, or show you how to bypass busy intersections and left turns across busy streets.