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Ultimate Guide to Google Maps – Tips & Tricks You Need to Know



Everybody travels, some are travelling for work, some for personal purpose and some just like to wander into the wild. It’s only human nature to seek exploration. And for all that travelling we need a map, a set of directions on how to achieve our destinations. In this world of smartphones and smartwatches, people are now used to navigating through these handheld and wrist devices, as they offer a convenient way to access the application, which has been evolved from the computer system to our mobiles.

Google has contributed a lot to this revolution of mapping most parts of the world. It all started when the company introduced Google Maps for the desktop users in February 2005 while the mobile version was released in September 2008 and featured GPS turn-by-turn navigation. With a series of acquisitions over the years, Google has made its Mapping service to be one of the finest services with geospatial data records. Currently, we know it as this amazing tool that helps us get anywhere and see anything.

But it can be possible that you’re not using the Google Maps up to its full potential, as the Mountain View giant adds an interesting set of features on every update it rolls out for its web as well as the mobile app. The Google Maps service is widely used not only on Android smartphones but also accounts for a lot of usage on the iOS devices ranging from iPhone to iPads. While Apple has their own maps, it’s not quite popular and is still in their early time.

Below is a list of features, tips, tricks and hacks for you to get around this service easily. Well, it’s not quite science fiction to use the Maps, but if you’re taught some things about it, then they would do wonders of planning your next adventure this summer. Without further ado, let’s talk about those features that you are clearly missing out on the Google Maps.

Table of contents

Getting Started

Create Your Own Maps

Having your own customized map is something that geography major student might always wanted. Same can be said for the daily commuter, a wanderer or a guide in you. With Google My Maps service you can share your knowledge of the great food joints, best place to get haircut, get a good cup of coffee or anything you might think would be helpful to people visiting your city for the first time. It’s quite amusing that mapping a place with the help of local community proves quite fruitful as those people living in the area probably knows city better than anyone outside the area.

Google - My Maps

Thus, Google offers a comprehensive set of tools that allows users to create their own maps, where they can mark the routes, point of interest, directions and much more things. All you got to do to get started is head over to this My Maps page in your browser and sign in with your Google account. You’ll see a short tutorial with tips if this is the first time you have opened that link. You’ll see it’s easy to set a location and mark your POIs, as well as routes. Note that you can also import the layers and data, and color the routes to differentiate. The creations you make will be automatically saved to your Google Drive. Moreover, you will see this map in the mobile app under Your Places, which makes it conveniently accessible.

Get Directions for Multiple Locations

You are going to take a tour of the new city that you are visting today? Or maybe you’re interested to plan a road trip this weekend? Well, regarding any of these situations, you can surely plan your trip ahead using the Google Maps service. Unfortunately, the service is not available on the Android or either the iOS apps. But you can still get the whole itinerary send to the mobile app, for that all you have to do is plan a trip by entering multiple location on the web version of the app. Make sure you’re logged in with your Google account, so that you can later send those directions to your phone.

Google - Multiple Directions

First you have to do is open Google Maps website on your desktop browser and then enter your first destination if you’re travelling from your current location, which will be taken automatically. And if not, you can enter that location manually. To add second destination, you have to tap on the plus icon just below the first destination. This way you can plot a whole itinerary of your trip. Note that you can switch the destinations as well, all you have to do is mouse over the left hand side of the destination, then you’ll see a Drag to reorder option. Now clicking and holding would allow you to switch the places of destination according to the needs. You can also set the timer when you want to leave for the trip, that you you’ll be automatically reminded of the upcoming trip. Moreover, Google will give you the estimated arrival time to the destination based on the input (Date and Time) you’ve entered.

Now finally to send directions to your phone, you’ll see a phone icon, clicking on the link in front of that will showcase a pop-up. The list will include a set of phones that you have used access your Google account. You can either decide to send that itinerary to your devices, or either email it or text to someone whom you’d like to share the trip details. It makes planning family trips easy, as well as can be used to collaborate with other fellow travelers. Because sharing is easy on this thing.

Using Voice Commands in Navigation

Navigation while driving alone is a pain that no one would like to go through. But with Google Maps support of voice navigation you don’t have to peek into your device screen every time a turn comes. While it’s good to have a voice alerting about the left turn and traffic ahead, there is a need for voice controls as well. Because just like we don’t like to peak into screen for every turn, it would be quite hard to operate the app with your hands. That’s why with voice navigation, there is a voice commands feature as well, which will allow you to search options like petrol pumps, restaurants, supermarkets, coffee shops and more places. If you’d specifically like to navigate to a place, then tap on the big search icon and then again on the microphone icon and speak your command.

For instance, you could say navigate to my home or work, then you’d be getting direction instructions to your home or work place, Only if you have defined any of those entities to the Google Maps. Talking about the voice navigation if you don’t like that you can mute it, just tap on the audio icon appearing while in the navigation window. You can either completely mute or just receive the alerts. There are some commands like “What’s my next turn?”, “Show alternate routes” ,“Find gas stations”, “Resume navigation”, etc., which can be used while you’re in a navigation mode.

Zooming One-Handed

We are quite used to pinching in order to zoom in and out on our touch enabled handsets. It might be easy when you’re not in the driver seat to use pinch zooming, but it’s not intuitive when you’re the only person in the car and travelling alone. Though, little did you know that you can also zoom one-handed in Google Maps. If you want to zoom one-handedly, then you got to start with a double tap, which will zoom partially. But there’s another option as well, which is, tapping on the map and leaving your finger or thumb on it the second time. And then you’ll find that you can swipe down to zoom in and swipe up to zoom out. At first, it might get tricky, but after couple times, you get used to zooming one-handed. And it’s more convenient and safer option, rather than keeping your both hands on the wheel, even for couple seconds, while driving.

Get a 3D View

Google has started to showcase 3D renderings of the building that you see on their maps; it allows users to get acquaintance of the structure and even see what’s in the building, as the Mountain View giant is expanding its indoor maps service too. Moreover, it looks kind of interesting and cool to look as at. So, if you want to see the 3D View, you would just have to zoom in a lot, and you’d see the 3D View. Once you’re zoomed in much, stop there and hold your one finger on to the map and move around up, down, left and right to see the complete view of the building. It’s quite fun to use this feature. For instance, if you move your fingers in a circular motion it will rotate the map. Note that Google has only added this 3D representation for certain cities, such as New York is one of them. The practical use apart from how nice it looks, you can find landmarks and obtain the bearing easily. Make sure that you’re in the normal view instead of the satellite or terrain view.


Find out What’s Happening in your City

There are tons of apps that can be installed from Play Store to know what’s latest happening in your city. But why signup for another service if you can see all that in your existing Google Maps app. You see it’s not just an app to move around the city; you can also explore the city as it guides you to what’s happening in your city. For instance, if you’re zoomed into a certain area in Google Maps like, then you’ll know see an option at the bottom of the screen, Explore food and drinks. Tapping on that will lead you to new window, where you can search for breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner and drinks.

Google has organised a set of options catering to the needs around those places. Such as you will see list of best breakfast spots, best coffee shops with Wi-Fi, Dinners for the groups, or pub with happy hours, it makes exploring the city quite easy. On weekends, you don’t want to hassle around city just walking without knowing where to go. With Google maps you know what’s happening in the city. But note that this feature is again available in certain cities. And if it’s not applicable in your city, you can still find the restaurants, cafes and many more places nearby by going to your location and searching for the places you’d like to go, which would be displayed with respective to your location.

Find & Delete Google Maps History

Google keeps a record of your location unless you’ve disabled it from the Google Settings app, which is present on every Android smartphone. Note that you can only review it from the browser on your desktop. First thing that you need to do is go to this Google link and make sure you’re signed in to your Google account. There you will see a list of places you’ve visited on the last day. Use the calendar located in the top-left corner, where you can select the specific dates, or weeks and months as well.

Google - Timeline

You’ll see a delete icon just beside the settings icon, tapping on it will open a dialog box, which will confirm if you want to delete all of the location history on your maps or not. Once you tick the checkbox, the button to delete location history will be enabled. Click on it and all the location history stored by Google will be deleted. Neither you nor Google will be able to access that history again. Company also warns that Google Now and other apps from the search giant using Location history might stop working properly. Or you could either pause the location history if you want to hide the location temporary. Moreover, you can download a copy of all your data. To do so, just click on the Settings icon and tap on download option. It will take you to new window, where you can export a copy in JSON or KML format.

Checking Bus and Train Schedules

Getting bus and train schedules correct isn’t an easy task, but Google Maps even excels that, as you can check up the times to any location. All you have to do is enter the location you want to travel into the search bar. Now It will take couple seconds to scan the routes, as per your current location. You’ll a list o icons appearing in a vertical line, by default it shows the route through the car. But you can tap on the Bus, or either Train icon to check the routes and timings. Then, a list of options will show based on the current time. Though, you can check the trains and buses for later time and dates as well.

To do that you have to tap on the settings option, as you do that a popup will open, which can be adjusted for Depart by, Arrive by and as well as Last. While the first two type will change the timings according to departure and arrival, the third option will showcase the last available bus or train for that route you’re searching. You can set the preference for mode of transport between Bus, Train, Tram/Light Rail, as well as underground trains. Moreover, can select the type of routes you want, such as Best, fewer transfers or less walking. Thus, Google Maps sometimes has been called the savior; it keeps information to the point and hustling through public transport a lot easier and manageable.

Find Nearby Places

Google Maps is not just a great tool for navigating in the city, but also a resourceful tool for finding relevant places nearby. With its Nearby feature, you can find out the closest restaurant nearby your current location, as well as a ton of other places such as petrol stations, ATMs, supermarkets, post offices and much more. It is your one-stop shop for things you may not know exactly where they are.

To get started, you have to tap on the blank search bar in Google Maps. You’ll see a list of recent searches, as well as some icons for nearby point of interest. Tapping on the three horizontal dots will expand the POI (Point of Interest) list. You can see many categories such as restaurants, hospitals, cinemas and much more. From that list, you can choose whatever you want and tap on it, which will open a list of options nearby with distances mentioned. You can browse through the list and tap on one to get directions to the place.

In an overview, you’ll often see review scores, opening hours, as well as could call to businesses or visit their websites directly from the panel. Once you slide the panel, you’ll see them marked on the map so that you can point out the places easily from your current location.

Favorite Locations

Google Maps - Favorite Locations

Want a real time saver tip? You can save locations on the Google Maps, which will allow super quick access to your favorite locations. It is like saving your frequent spots to navigate later easily. Unlike typing the place in the search bar and going though the listing to find out that favorite coffee shop you found last weekend. If you’re planning to go their further in coming weekends, then it would be best if you save that location on your Google Maps.

So, in order to save the location on the maps, all you have to do is open the location of that place you want to save and then expand the information window by tapping on the location. Once you scroll down to see the address, you’ll notice a save button depicted by a star icon, tapping on it will save the location as your favorite spot. Once you have added star marked most of your places, you’ll see how easy it is to quickly open those places. Just tap on the menu button and then on Your Places; further you’ll see a Saved tab. Opening that you’ll see a list of all the saved places. You can tap on them and directly navigate to the places you like to.


Using Google Maps Offline

There are many mapping service that offers offline maps and even navigation as well. Though, they require you to download the large sized maps of the cities. While it is possible if the handset has a lot of internal storage space, but when we talk about the offline services being used by travellers. Well, that’s when it hits you that offline maps aren’t the best way to navigate around the city if your device doesn’t have a large storage. Google has a solution for this kind of situations.

For instance, you’re a person from North part of India and travelling to South India for a job interview in southern part. It would be better to just download the specific routes and maps as you’re in the city for just couple hours and then you head back to your city. Google Maps not only allows you to save the maps of specific areas, as much as you have zoomed in on your screen, but as well as you can plan the itinerary if there are more than one destinations you’re travelling to. Moreover, you can easily navigate using these saved maps, which will not take large space on your device. You don’t need data to use GPS on your handset.

Downloading an offline map of an area is easy, just go to the location and tap on it. There you will see a three dotted menu, tapping on that will open a list of options; the last option is Download offline area. Once you tap on that a cropping window will open, there you need to select the area you want to download. From what we saw, there needs to be at least 150MB size you need to download, which will increase as you expand the area. So, you can download according to your requirements. You can access all the saved offline maps from the menu under Offline Areas. But note that these saved offline maps expire after 30 days; you need to update it, if you want to keep it beyond that point. In some perspective they are quite helpful, while in some they are quite limited, like you can’t get turn-by-turn directions, or even search maps while offline.

Using Street View

Google Maps - Street View

Google Maps have been around for more than a decade now, but it was only in the recent times that company has started to take pictures of the places and put it on its Street View, these 360 degree photos, called as Photosphere has become the way to see the full world at your fingertips. While Google is dedicated to offer these street views, they are not yet available for every city in the world. That’s why company also relies on its loyal users to upload the photospheres, as these days the smartphones are quite powerful when it comes to camera quality. Now just imagine if every smartphone user in the world uploads a 360 View of his/her neighborhood, then it would be totally great and would empower users to browse through the streets of other countries while sitting at their homes. The practical use is that a user gets the idea on how to navigate easily by looking at the street view.

Now launching a street view is simple, just touch and hold on the map to drop a pin on your chosen location. As you do that tap on the dropped in location. Just on the above on the left, you should see a small view, tapping on it will open the street view of that location. Now you can move around on that view, 360 degree and experience the location as if you were there. It helps find small stores and places that are only visible in the street view, but not on regular maps. A person gets better idea of the location as they see it all. Note that you need a street view app in order to upload the photosphere from your device. You can also create a collection and browse through the existing ones posted by other users and Google.

Sharing Your Location

We often travel a lot, if not explore new places but at least commute from work to home and vice versa. In between we sometimes require to share our location with a family or a friend and Google Maps is the best application to share that. To share your location on the Maps app, all you have to do is just tap and hold on your location and thus dropping a pin. Now you have to tap that address or the dropped in pin section, which lies on the bottom of the section, to expand it. Once that window is open, you’ll see a ton of option, among them is a Share button. As you tap that button, you’ll see a pop-up open with a list of apps that you can share your location through. It’s quite helpful if that location has a street view or even a photograph, because there would be less trouble finding that location.

Quickly Get Directions

If an app has a ton of functionality, then you can expect some nifty features on them, such is the case with Google Maps. Most of us are now familiar with navigation on this app, which offers voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions and ton of other functionalities. But did you know that there is a shortcut for opening the navigation mode? You will now. While you search for a place, or touch it on the map, you’ll see a blue icon appear in the bottom area with either car, person or any transport mode icon on it. Tapping on it will directly take you to the navigation mode, as it chooses the best available route. Note that the GPS on your device should be switched ON in order to go into navigation mode; otherwise, you’ll just see an option to view the route, instead of the navigation mode.

Using Indoor Maps

It is possible that you might have felt lost in the large places like malls, airports, etc., because admit it, not all of us have a good sense of directions. Most of us rely on services like Google Maps for navigating through the city; now you can also happily rely on the indoor maps services. Integrated on the mobile app of the Maps, the indoor maps helps a lot when you’re looking for specific shop or finding restroom in those large malls or airports. Though, unfortunately they don’t cover all the malls, airports, sports arenas and convention centers all over the world. For instance, in Hyderabad it is only available for Salar Jung Museum, where you can see what’s on the ground and first floor.

Using these Indoor maps on the Google maps apps is easy, regardless of browsing on Android or iOS app, you just have to zoom close enough to these places (LINK – where indoor maps are available and they’ll automatically load in your current window. Now you should see a list of floors in that building, tapping on each floor will showcase what’s on that. You have a floor plan of the building; it should be easy to navigate to the parts you want to go.

Sweet Hacks

What is a Typical Traffic feature?

Introduced couple of years back, the typical traffic feature lets you pick up a day and time to see what the traffic has been like historically. So, if you’re going to head out from office to home on a Friday evening, then you can avoid those jammed routes as per the historical data picturized by Google Maps. It has been available for highway routes since quite a time, while the surface roads got these couple years back. It’s built right in the web version of the app, while you can check the bus and train schedules on the app, you can’t particularly see the typical traffic data on your mobile app.

Talking about how you can see that data, well, all you have to do is just head over to the Google Maps website and type in your starting point and destination and enable traffic. You’ll see a small box, showcasing the weeks and timing scale of 8 AM to 8 PM (extendable from 6 AM to 10 PM). Browse through different weeks and timing to plan your travels ahead. It is more of a feature for planned travel rather than current commute. But you still can see the live traffic as well, on this web version as well as on app. Note that typical traffic data is not available on the mobile app.

Send Directions to Mobile

Everyone likes to browse on their desktop, especially if that person is a nerd (count us in too) and planning a trip itinerary for your weekend gateway using Google Maps is a wise choice. I assume you’re doing that on the web version of the service, because it’s quite easier and faster. After planning your itinerary, you want to send that route trips to your smartphone? Well, it’s easy. As you planned that multiple destination trips for this weekend with your family, on the desktop, you should see Send directions to your phone options. Once you click on it, you’ll see a list of connected smartphones with same Google account you’re currently logged into. Click on either any of the device listed there or email or text it to yourself. You can connect a new device as well if you haven’t connected the device, which you want to use to navigate during the trip.

Become a Local Guide

Even company as big as Google needs help at some point and with some things! While the Mountain View company can easily deploy a large number of employees to add landmarks, businesses on map and do many important things that can be resourceful for company. But getting such listings from a local person living in neighborhood or even visiting the city would be quite valuable. That’s why company has started a Local Guide program where any Google account holder can sign up and become a local guide. All they have to do is rate their favorite places, where they often go, as well as they can review businesses on the map and make edits to business information, making sure they are correct.

These local guides are rewarded special perks for their valuable contributions based on the points system. The perks range from entry into contest to winning gadgets from Google, 1TB of Drive storage and early access to features and products. Signing up is easy just head over to this website (LINK) where you can sign up for the program. And Yes, the person needs to be at least 18 years old, which is a strict criterion by company. After signing up getting started is easy, just head over to the favorite spots where you have been and start reviewing them and adding images as well. You can add photospheres as well, which will help users navigate better and take up a closer look at 360 degrees.

Hail taxi from Google Maps

Google Maps - Hail Taxi

Google has been known to integrate a lot of services on their applications and accessing taxi prices from apps like UBER and Ola is one of those things. Even if you didn’t have these apps installed on your device, it would show you time and fare estimates of the cab available nearby your current location. By this one this is clear; you don’t have to install an aggregator app to check the fares and availability of the cabs from such services. With Google integrating them into their Maps app you can check whenever you want. Hailing a cab from Google Maps becomes a convenience that you didn’t know you needed.

How to hail a cab from Google Maps app? Well, it’s simple, just enter your current location and destination, there would be a fourth tab with icon of taxi, tapping on it will open the list of nearby available cabs. Though, note that booking can only be made on the respective applications. If you haven’t installed the service yet, Google would even suggest you to ride with a code. You’ll also notice just under the tab that it says ads in yellow color. The company has currently partnered up with different taxi apps in countries like India, Brazil, UK, Spain, and Germany.

Saving Home and Work Places

Predefining your home and work places on the Google Maps is one of the important things that you should definitely do, if you commute a lot between work and home, moreover, if there is a large distance between these two entities. Because working professionals experience it that if the distance is quite long, then they get tired and waste a lot of time commuting between the two most important places in their life. But that doesn’t mean that commuting can’t be made easier. Once you save home and workplaces, Google will alert you when is the correct time to leave the office so that you don’t arrive late for work, while it’s also important to go at the correct time during the evening, because that’s when most of the working people commute to go back to their homes. Once you have entered those addresses, then all you got to do is sit back and relax as Google scans for the traffic and accident reports to plan the best route back to home.

Now adding those addresses is quite easy, just tap on the menu window and head over to the Your places options. Tapping on it will open a new window, under the first tab, which is called labelled, you’ll see Home and Work options there. Click on set home address and find out your home in the map opened. Same thing needs to be done for work address. Well, you’re all set now. Now navigating between working and home is about to get real easy and interesting as you might take new routes that you haven’t even seen yet. Let’s get exploring! You can now ask Google maps to navigate to home or work without entering the address, just type or voice command Navigate to work and you’ll see the route. You can also ask restaurants near work, which will give you a list of places where you can dine in for lunch nearby your workplace.

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Congratulation reader, you have successfully mastered the Google Maps using this extensive guide on PhoneRadar.


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