Are you really using all that Google Maps has to offer? Now it’s time you did! Google Maps has grown over the years and so have its features. It is now way more than just a digital replica of a paper map and you can get way more out of. But most of us are only scratching the surface of what they have to offer. There are some tricks hiding that you never ran into that will change the way you navigate.
Sure, you can use it like a map, but its way more powerful if you learn how to save places offline, taking advantage of navigation, improve the information by adding details, and mastering other tricks, etc. Below are 13 tips and tricks for getting most out of the Google Maps on your Android. Some of these are big time savers, while others simply give you more options in configuring Maps to work the way you want it.
1. Long Press the blue button to Navigate Quicker
When you look up for a location in Google Maps, a blue button appears in the bottom right that you can tap to view the different ways of navigating there.
Sometimes you don’t really care how you get there, but that you get there as efficiently as possible. Hence, to quickly launch into navigation, simply long-press the blue button when you select a location — Maps will then start navigation to that place from your current location and take the fastest route possible. No messing with start points or routes, just long-press that button and go. It works for all navigation options like public transit and biking as well.
2. Double Tap and Hold to Zoom
This is a simple one, but it’s a game-changer for one-handed usage. Google Maps doesn’t require you pinch the screen with two fingers in order to zoom. Instead, try double tapping on a location to zoom partially in on that spot.
In addition, you can hold that second tap and slide your finger up to zoom in or slide your finger down to zoom out. So that’s “tap, tap, and hold, swipe up or down.”
3. Add Labels to Locations
You probably aware that you can “Star” items to save them for later in My Places, but do you also know that you can add labels to places? Yes, you can create labels for different places that you find which you can then re-visit later from ‘Your places’ without relying on search to find them every single time. You can also label your home and work address, which helps Maps and Google Now give you estimated travel times when planning a route.
Note that you can’t add labels to real places that are already registered in Google Maps (such as Malls, theaters, offices, etc). For example – When you visit a Mall and want to remember where it is, you can ‘Star’ it to appear under Your Places. You can’t add a label to that place because it already has a name. On the other hand, let’s say you visit a relative’s house (which obviously doesn’t have their address registered in Google Maps), you can add a Label to that place and name it “Relative’s house” and it will also appear under Your Places.
4. Save Maps for Offline Use
If you’re traveling somewhere and you don’t want to rely on your Internet connection, Google Maps lets you download offline maps and save them.
To save an area for offline use:
- Search for the area you want to save on your phone.
- Once you have the map on your screen, tap on the bar at the bottom of the screen and drag it up.
- Tap on Save and select the area you wish to download using the zoom feature.
- Give the map a name and it will remain on your device for 30 days before its deleted.
To open your saved maps on your device, you need to access the app options of Google Maps and select ‘Offline areas’. A list of your saved offline maps will appear where you’ll also have the option to open or delete them.
Keep in mind that the downloaded maps don’t include points of interest or navigation — you’re just getting raw map data for the area and nothing more.
5. i) Tap the Compass to Change Your View
Different people prefer different ways of using their maps. Some prefer to always have the map looking North; while others want it pointed the way they’re looking. Thankfully you can switch between the two modes by simply tapping on the compass icon in the bottom-right corner.
ii) Use Advanced Swipes to get Better Views
Google Maps can be manipulated in many different ways. It has a feature that allows us to see virtual building sizes. Tap on the screen with two fingers and drag down to view all the buildings in a certain area. When you want to return to a bird’s eye view, just swipe back up on the screen with two fingers
If you want to rotate the map from its standard view North, move two fingers in a circular motion to get a view down a particular street. You can always tap the compass in the top-right corner to return to the default view.
6. See Where You’ve Been
This feature that has been reserved for the desktop till now, has finally made its way to Android. Google Maps can keep tabs on everywhere you go. Now that may sound pretty creepy, but it’s very useful at times.
Swipe in from the left or tap the three-line icon in the upper left and go to “Your timeline”. Here, you can navigate to any day in the past and see exactly where you went. You can also add notes to certain days to remember what you did.
But if you want to eliminate your tracks, you can just head to Timeline settings and delete your history or turn the feature off.
7. Adjust your Depart or Arrive Time for Public Transit
If you live in some major cities, Public transit is usually a great and much less expensive way to get around the city. But it often takes a little extra planning to get a trip ready.
With Google Maps, you are not restricted to searching for the bus, train and subway times for right now, but you can get information for public transit to leave by or arrive at a specific time.
Once you put in your start and end points in the public transit view of Google Maps, tap the “Depart At” button in the upper-left to launch the time selector. You can then enter a specific time that you intend to depart or arrive at the selected destination, or even choose to just take the last available transit.
You can add your home and work locations saved into Google Maps. Just tap on the three lines in the upper-left corner, choose ‘Your places’ and add the addresses of your home and work. This will make it a lot easier whenever you are out and about to get home quickly because you can tell Google to navigate home instead of always having to type in your own address.
9. Navigate Inside Malls
Not only for roads, Google Maps also works for some malls! If you are near a major mall, zoom in to see the layout of that mall. You can even find some specifics stores inside the mall, find the restrooms, and even navigate through the separate floors.
10. Send Directions to Your Phone
You probably use Google Maps on the desktop as well as your Android phone. If so, there’s no need to start over when you switch from the PC to mobile.
If you’re signed into the same Google account on both your computer and your smartphone, you can just choose “Send to Phone”, and you’ll get a notification that’ll take you to the directions in Google Maps.
11. Find local favorites
Google Maps has been morphing into more of a city guide the past couple of years with suggestions for places to visit and eat. Touch the Explore option from the slide-out menu and you will be presented with lots of different choices for what’s nearby.
12. Add a Pit Stop & Check Gas Prices
This extremely useful feature is a recent addition to the Google Maps app. Now, once you have started navigating somewhere, you can tap the search button to search for another location and add it as a pit stop. Or, if you know you’ll need a pit stop before you leave, tap the three-dot icon in the upper right and choose “Add stop.”
Additionally, if you search for gas stations, it’ll show you the gas prices at different locations so that you can save a few dollars on your pit stop. As for now, it only supports adding one pit stop at a time.
13. Check Your Speed & Speed Limits
This feature actually hasn’t made it into Google Maps yet, but you can still add it by downloading the app “Velociraptor – Map Speed Limit” from the Play Store. You need to simply download the app, adjust the settings to your preferences, and then head over to Google Maps.
You will now see a little bubble off to the side that shows your current speed and the speed limit of the road you are on. You can even set it up to alert you when you are driving off exceeding the speed limit so that you don’t get a speeding ticket.