Mapping the Controls: What You Not Necessarily Know About Google Maps
This might be one of Google’s more long-standing – and, possibly, best-known and popular – services, and yet, if you think you know everything there is to know about Google Maps, you may well have to think again. Even if you (like most of us) have been using this platform forever, it is still very possible that you are still not using it to the best of its abilities. Which is actually partly due to its above-mentioned age: it has grown a lot since the time of its introduction in 2005, in terms of scale and functions alike. Simply put, the platform has accumulated so many options over this period, adding on layer after layer of various settings and features, it’s now pretty easy to lose oneself in those or overlook quite a few of them, including those that could come in rather handy in certain situations.
So, to help you avoid this, allow us to give you some useful (we hope) pointers at convenient yet not readily apparent Google Maps life hacks. Mind you, it is rather timely now that the volume of road journeys is set to grow back.
For starters, did you know that Google Maps can lead you to your port of call not just when you are behind the wheel, but even when you complete your trip on foot (if you can’t park close enough to where you are going, to which point we will yet return)? There is now a special tool available exactly for that purpose, which is called Live View, but to find it, you have to open “Directions” to your required destination and choose the Walking option. That is exactly where the Live View switch is stashed (right near the Start button). And it will obligingly lead you where you need to go with arrow-like indicators. Just show it the street view through your phone camera lens.
And, speaking of street view, you will do well to know that with Google Maps, you can get it even without arriving at the street in question, which is a good thing. Because it can show you the true state of affairs behind the pretty advertising images and enticing brochure texts. And this option appears to you by default, in the form of a little photo thumbnail in the left lower corner of the screen, whenever you choose the location of your possible stay in the application. Just press on this thumbnail and move your finger around the display to see how the lodging you consider (and the quarter around it) really looks like.
What also could surprise you about Google Maps is that you don’t always need to be online to have access to it. Yes, that’s right: even in low-signal or no signal areas it can remain available to its users… as long as they’d care to download their itinerary in advance. Having opened the app, type in the name of your stopping place and when it (or its address) appears in the lower part of the display, just tap on it. That will call up the menu symbol (consisting, as it often does, of three dots and residing in its habitual upper-right corner space). Select the Download offline map option, confirm the download… and there goes your dependence on network providers: from then on, you’ll have the map of your needed locale at hand with or without them.
And while we all know that Google Maps can compute how long this or that trip will take (why, this feature is one of its main reasons of existence!), many of us don’t realize how flexible and intelligent this particular feature has gotten by now. These days, it doesn’t just thoughtlessly give you the net time of driving required, but can also take into account all the stopovers you’re about to make. This option, too, resides in the three-dot menu under “Directions”: just select the obviously-titled “Add stop” and, once you’ve done it the required number of times, tap “Done”. Done, indeed: now you have the actual estimated duration of your journey instead of the theoretical one.
Now let’s move on to our earlier-promised topic of parking… or rather lack thereof when you need it most, which few (if any) of us haven’t encountered yet. Believe it or not, the subject app can solve that problem too – and again, with a (not so) little help from the Directions menu of your location. The moment you’ll open it, right alongside the aforesaid time of journey, you’ll find the P letter, coloured red or blue, depending on parking availability (and yes, red does mean you are out of luck and don’t have much of a choice). Select this letter and go for the Find Parking option which will then come up. Once you’ll have the free spaces shown to you, choose the one you prefer, press “add parking” and there will be one headache less for you upon arrival.
And finally, the last of possible revelations about this highly versatile app for the day: not only can it help find things, it can do the opposite as well, should the need arise (that is, in cases when you don’t want to be found). In other words, it can serve as a privacy tool on top of being a route guide, thanks to the aptly named Incognito Mode. To unveil and activate – or deactivate – this option you only have to tap on your profile symbol. Quite nifty, if you ask us – and a shame to miss, just like the rest of them.
The New Google Maps (2020) [Video]
Video uploaded by 6 Months Later Reviews on February 28, 2020