If you’re anything like me and directionally-challenged, Google Maps is an absolute lifesaver. But there’s more to the navigation tool than mapping out the quickest route or ensuring you don’t get lost along the way. Google Maps isn’t just about getting from point A to point B either – it’s a booming technology that can do some pretty amazing things.
It’s the mapping product that can do almost anything. We’re all familiar with how useful Google Maps is for getting directions to just about anywhere, but what about the extensive features that go with it? From time-saving shortcuts, finding a place to park at the airport and even a little time travel. Some of the app’s best components are the hardest to find, but definitely the most worth it when you find your way around the navigation tool.
Since making the jump from our computers to our phones, Google Maps has evolved significantly over the years. Chances are though, you’re probably not getting the most out of the app. Thus, it’s time to explore some of its most practical (and fun) off-the-beaten-path features:
1. Add Multiple Stops to Your Journey
If you’re finding yourself constantly entering in your next destination at every step of your journey, you’re wasting a lot of time. Google Maps has a great feature which allows you to add multiple stops to each journey because rarely do we just go from point A to B. Chances are, there’s always a few pit stops along the way!
To add multiple destinations to your journey, enter your starting point and ultimate ending point as normal. In the top right-hand corner of the Google Maps app, click on the three dots, which will initiate a pop-over menu with the option to ‘add stop’. You can add as many destination stops throughout your journey as you need, and Google Maps will efficiently navigate you all the way.
2. Save Offline Maps
You don’t always have to be connected to benefit from Google Maps. Whilst no signal usually means no maps, Google Maps actually allows you to save offline maps for remote destinations, areas without reception or when you’ve simply run out of credit.
To use this feature, find the area which you want to access offline. Next, type “okay maps” into the search bar (where you would normally type your intended destination). An outlined box will appear, which can be moved to find the exact location you’re after. Once you have found your target point, click “download” to have access to the map offline. You can access these offline maps by clicking on the 3 lines in the left-hand corner and selecting ‘offline maps’.
3. Navigate Your Way Inside a Building
If you’re not so great at navigating your way on the roads, chances are, you get lost inside buildings too! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. The great thing about Google Maps is, it doesn’t stop being useful after you’ve arrived at your destination. Once you’re at the location, you can zoom in using the app to view the floor plan of the building. There’s a bar on the left-hand side which allows you to change between floors, so you can easily navigate around the place without having to spend half an hour wandering aimlessly or going up and down the lifts.
This feature also allows you to see inside buildings, even if you’re not at the location. Simply use the search bar to find the building and on the left, there will be a 360-degree icon. Tap the icon to see rooms and walk through the space as if you were already there. This is exceptionally handy if you’re going to an unfamiliar location and want to scope it out before arriving.
4. Remember Where You Parked
There’s nothing worse than coming out from a packed shopping centre to forget where you’ve parked your car. You can spend a good 20 minutes searching for those lost wheels on a bad day, easily. Google Maps has a feature which will help on these bad days (or even the good days, if you’re a naturally forgetful person!).
After you’ve parked, bring up the location of your car on Google Maps. On the top right-hand corner, click the 3 vertical dots and choose ‘set as parking location’. When you’ve finished at your destination, click on the map where it says “you parked here” and choose ‘directions’ to navigate your way back. If you’re an Android user, you can even add notes to your parking location, like what level you’ve parked on or what time the parking ticket expires for extra convenience.
5. Time Travel
Yes, you’ve read right. Google Maps has a time travel feature! The downfall about this feature is it’s only accessible through the desktop version of Google Maps, and not your smartphone, but it’s still a fun (and sometimes practical) option to play around with.
This feature lets you look at the Street View of any location as it existed at various points in the past. It’s been available since 2014, but not many users know of it. To access the virtual time machine of sorts, click the stopwatch icon on the top left-hand corner of the desktop/laptop version of Google Maps. This will prompt a sliding scale which will allow you to jump street views over time.
6. Find Local Food and Drink Recommendations Specific to Your Needs
This is a more common feature from the list but still one that’s very underused and underrated. Perfect when discovering a new location or just when you need some inspiration for an area you commonly visit, it offers recommendations for local food, drinks and attractions to check out. The best thing about this feature is you can change it to suit your specific needs.
To bring up what’s near you, tap the ‘explore food and drinks near you’ tab at the bottom of Google Maps. You can then filter by cuisine type, whether you need to the place to be child-friendly and any other options relevant to your needs.
7. Check Traffic
Traffic sucks, but with Google Maps, you can plan your journey smarter and avoid the daily rush. What you think may be the best route can turn out to be a traffic nightmare, so plan ahead with Google Map’s traffic alerts. On the top right-hand corner of the app, select the icon which has three squares layered on top of each other. Here you’ll be able to select ‘traffic’, which will transform your map into colourful lines. Green represents routes which are free from traffic and red represents heavy congestion, with orange being in the middle. You can also map out cycling and public transport routes from the same icon as you accessed traffic from.
Regardless of whether you’re good with directions or not, Google Maps is an app that benefits everyone. If you’re after a new car to get you to your destination, contact one of our staff to discuss how a Novated Lease could work for you.