Google Maps is now capable of sharing a user's battery status with the user's friends and family, or anyone else that needs to see it. The update to the Google Maps Android app now seems to be in full swing and well on its way out to device owners, with multiple users having now noticed the new feature.
This is part of Google Maps' ability to share location data with those who might need it. So unless a user is sharing their location with someone else, the battery status of a device will not be shared. The difference is, when location data is now shared with someone else, the information provided will be even more inclusive than before. As not only will that other person now know how far away someone is, but also how much battery their device has left. Which, if nothing else, should work as a good indicator of how long a person can expect to continue to receive location information in the near-term. For example, if the last location shared shows a battery level that is about to fully deplete, there will be no immediate need to worry when the next time the location is checked it shows little change. As it will be safe to assume the device has simply ran out of power and turned off.
As an extension of this, it seems the new battery status also highlights whether the smartphone is currently being charged. So, again, in the case when battery levels are critically low and the person tracking knows the battery is close to running out, they can rest assured the battery won't run out, as it's currently in a charging state. Of course, while this is not necessarily a feature that will appeal to everyone, for those who often need to keep track of loved ones, it could prove to be a very important feature. Likewise, for those who do often share their location with other people through Google Maps, it will be good to know the full extent to the information that is being shared. According to the user reports on this, the update is happening behind the scenes and so there is nothing to manually update.