At this year’s I/O, the Play Store gained the ability to let users easily participate in an app beta without having to first join a Group. Google Maps for Android now has a beta channel (via Android Police) that users can easily sign-up for here.
Maps rolled out version 9.26.1 with few major features last week. After joining the beta channel, users will be updated to version 9.27. So far, there are no notable changes in this update. The sign-up page warns that testing versions may be unstable and have a few bugs. Feedback can be submitted via this support link.
As Maps frequently adds new functionality with major updates, this beta will give testers access to new features ahead of time. Users who want to leave the beta can go back to the sign-up page and hit “leave the test” to return to a more stable version.
The first product to gain a beta channel was the Google app a few months ago. With the Google app beta, new updates are pushed out immediately to all testers instead of in a rolled out manner. Presumably, the same will apply to Maps.
During the I/O announcements, Google also announced that betas will appear in search results and that the Play Store would curate polished betas in a new section. However, signing up for a beta from the Play Store app on mobile is not yet live.