oogle Maps has changed the way we navigate today, and it is worth knowing how to get around with Maps.
Google continues to revamp and improve its map product with features like augmented reality and commuter options.
But there are a ton of customizable tools and hidden functions already baked into Google Maps that you may not know about, like Incognito Mode.
These tips and tricks will help you unlock your Maps app’s full potential.
Customised vehicle icon
If you are driving, Google lets you choose what car shows up on your navigation in the iOS and Android apps.
In the app, plug in your destination and start up driving directions. Tap the icon that shows your current location and a pop-up menu will appear with several car icon options: a sedan, a pickup truck, or an SUV.
Rarely do car trips consist of going from point A to B. More often, they are something like from point A to B to C to D, and what have you. It is a good thing Google makes it possible to anticipate real trips.
To add multiple destinations in the Google Maps mobile app, enter your starting point and your ultimate destination and then click the three dots in the top-right corner.
This will prompt a pop-over menu with the option to “Add stop.” Click that and you can add a route with multiple stops.
You will even have the option drag and drop stops within your itinerary. (Note that this doesn’t work when you’re using the mass transit option.)
Remember where you parked
In 2021, going forward, thanks to Google Maps, you no longer have to forget where you parked.
On Android, tap the blue location dot and select Save your parking, which will add a label to the Maps app, identifying where you parked. Tap that to add details like parking garage level and spot or the amount of time left before a meter expires.
You can also set meter reminders, add a photo of where you parked, and send your parking location to friends.
To find it later, tap the search bar up top and select Parking location. Or tap Driving down below, and look for Saved parking.
To delete, tap Driving > Clear. Or tap “You parked here” on the map, select More Info on the bottom left and tap Clear.
On iOS, tap the little blue location dot within the app when you arrive at a location. In the pop-up, tap Set as parking location. In the app, a P icon will appear alongside a note that says “You parked near here.”
To get rid of it, tap the P and select Clear.
Share your location
Google Maps now let you share your current location with people for specific periods of time.
If you share your location with a specific contact, they will see your icon moving in real time on their map.
On Android or iOS, tap your profile icon on the top left and select Location sharing. Choose who you want to share with and for how long, and they will be able to see where you are.
Interact with Maps while you are driving
Do not operate your phone while you are driving; talk with it instead.
If you want to interact with Maps while you are driving, you don’t want to actually take your eyes off the road. With “OK Google” voice commands in the Google Maps Android app, you don’t have to.
For example, if you notice you are running low on gas, say “OK Google, find gas stations” and it will show gas stations on the map (which you can look at when you’ve come to a red light or have pulled over).
You can also ask for things like “What’s my next turn,” “what’s my ETA,” or “How’s traffic ahead?”
On iOS, you have to tap the microphone icon on the top right, at which point you can ask your questions via voice.
AR walking directions
If you are walking around a city, and need a visual aid, Google Maps supports augmented reality walking directions in certain locales.
This feature layers directional prompts atop Street View imagery to help you know which way to walk or turn.
It initially rolled out in 2019 for Pixel phones, and later expanded to other Android phones with ARCore support and iPhones with ARKit support.
The area itself needs to have robust Street View support; if it’s available, you’ll see a “Live View” option at the bottom of your screen when you search for walking directions.
If you don’t have AR view yet, find the blue dot on Google Maps and tilt your phone in the direction you’re about to walk.
That blue location dot will cast what looks like a shadow in the direction you’re facing to help you get oriented.
That little person in the corner has a purpose
See that little yellow person in the bottom right-hand corner of Google Maps? That’s “Peg Man” (or alternatively “the pegman”).
You can pick little peggy up and drop him anywhere on maps and be thrown into that location’s Street View.
Once in Street View mode, he will be oriented with the current view in the embedded map window in the bottom left-hand corner.
Add your own Street View images
Google doesn’t rent out its Street View cars, but Android users can now add their pics to the street-level mapping feature.
All that is required to start contributing is the latest version of the Street View app on Android and a smartphone with support for ARCore.
Once captured, the images can be published via the app and Google’s servers will automatically carry out the required rotation and positioning to create a series of connected photos. After that, they will appear on Street View for all to see for the location you captured.
Find accessible transit routes and locations
Those with mobility issues can search for wheelchair-accessible transit routes by tapping Options > Wheelchair accessible when looking for train or bus directions.
When you get to your destination, meanwhile, the Accessible Places setting will offer up wheelchair accessibility information about that location. Turn it on via Settings > Accessibility > Accessible Places and toggle it on.
When Accessible Places is switched on, a wheelchair icon will indicate an accessible entrance and you’ll be able to see if a place has accessible seating, restrooms or parking.
If it is confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, that information will show on Maps as well.
Access Google Maps offline
Today, Maps is most useful on mobile, which brings up a problem: when you are most in need of Maps, you may find yourself somewhere with limited or non-existent coverage.
To help you out, Google Maps supports offline access. Navigate to the area you’d like to access while offline. Swipe left on the menu at the bottom of the screen and tap Download to download that map, assuming you have enough storage on your device.
You can then get information about businesses in the region and turn-by-turn directions within the downloaded section.
Time travel with Google Maps
Street View has amassed a huge collection of street imagery over the years.
In 2014, Google introduced Time Travel, a way for users to see how Street View has changed over time. A virtual time machine of sorts.
Access this four-dimensional cartographic experience in Street View by clicking the little stopwatch icon in the top-left corner where available, which prompts a sliding scale that allows you to jump through Street Views over time.