Google maps: tips& tricks to get to your destination quickly and safely

Google Maps: Tips & Tricks to get to your destination quickly and safely

Google Maps was once a simple maps app. Meanwhile, it’s a travel guide, navigation device, cab call and more. You can even tell your friends where you are in real time. We have compiled the most important tips for Google Maps here for you.

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    : explore cities, find stops, order cabs : avoid traffic jams, find gas stations, augmented reality : show friends where you are and where to go : optimize GPS, calibrate compass, save data

Research with Google Maps

Finds busy places in foreign cities

Maybe you have already noticed the new bright orange colored areas in Google Maps. You show areas in cities where there are particularly large numbers of people. Often this is because there are bars, stores or restaurants there.

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Orange areas in Google Maps indicate busy places. / © NextPit

Public transport and stop info

When which bus leaves where and where it goes? Let it show you in real time. At least in big cities Google is fed with the necessary information by the transport companies, so you don’t have to rely on the notice board anymore.

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Google Maps and public transport. / © NextPit

Flixbus/Uber/Taxi integration in Google Maps

In Google Maps you can book Uber or cabs among other things. You can find this in the separate column for driving services. Flixbus is displayed for public transportation, provided you have Bus Activated as a means of transport. A Flixbus booking is not yet possible within Google Maps, but Uber is fully integrated.

google maps flixbus

It is possible to display bus routes. / © NextPit

google maps mytaxi integration

On the second look you can see in the left screenshot the small note "Ads", which stands for advertising / © ANDROIDPIT

In addition to the duration of the ride time, the approximate cost of the ride service is also displayed. But with Free Now (formerly My Taxi) you can only see this if you also have the app installed on your Android smartphone. With Uber the integration goes on and you can book the ride in the app as well as track the position of the arriving driver live.

Become a Local Guide

Maps shows you opening hours, reviews and photos of many stores and restaurants. These are no longer entered only by the owners of the respective stores, but by quite normal users. Since Google depends on the help of many volunteers, it has found with the Local Guides program a way to motivate users like you to participate.

google maps local guides

Rate stores in your area. / © NextPit

Google is using it to attack recommendation portals like Yelp or Tripadvisor head-on. The fact that your map app offers such information makes a lot of sense from the user’s point of view. This way, the information is all in one place and you’re no longer jumping back and forth between different apps to find the restaurant with the best food right away, too.

The rewards are quite modest. You will be promised invitations to exclusive events and you will be allowed to try out new Google products sooner. Further motivation comes from notifications about the fact that your reviews or photos were viewed particularly often and found helpful.

Trace timeline

Google doesn’t hide the fact that it knows what you did last summer. Look at My Timeline, to retrace your footsteps around the world. You can also see photos in the Timeline if you have uploaded them to Google Photos.

google maps timeline

Follow your footsteps in this world. / © NextPit

The data comes from your movement profile, which you probably activated when you set up your smartphone. Second, they come from the location data plus the timestamp of the photos you uploaded to Google Photos. In combination you get a nice travel report.

Navigation with Google Maps

Control Google Maps by voice

In order to operate safely with Google Maps while driving, the voice control or voice commands should be activated. use voice input. There are two ways to trigger voice commands in Google Maps. Either by clicking on the microphone icon in the search bar or by simply saying "Ok Google".

Google Maps voice control

As a driver, you should use the voice control of Google Maps. / © NextPit

Using voice input, you can search for addresses or places, or directly start navigating to a place you know or have saved. In addition to these classic voice commands, you can also perform actions within the app via Google Maps. Below are some of the standard commands, for hands-free use of Google Maps:

  • Turn off voice output:"Mute" or "Voice guidance off"
  • Turn on voice output:"Mute off" Or"Voice guidance on"
  • Show traffic on the route:"Show traffic" or"hide traffic"
  • Show and hide satellite view: "Show satellite" or "Hide satellite"
  • Show route view: "Show route summary" or "Show alternative routes"

The commands listed above are only a small selection, because the voice control in Google Maps is performed via the Google Assistant. So it is of course possible to execute almost all commands that the Assistant can do, also in Maps. What commands you can generally perform when using Google Assistant, we have prepared for you in another article.

Navigation in augmented reality

In the future, Google Maps will make it easier for pedestrians to find their way in unfamiliar areas by navigating with the help of augmented reality. This uses VPS (Visual Positioning System) technology, the smartphone’s camera and a range of data that Google has collected to analyze the surrounding environment. This way, the algorithm can estimate your position and more accurately determine where you are located.

Initially, the feature was only released for Local Guides and then gradually made available to an ever-growing user base. Using AR navigation is quite simple. Once you have selected a destination and started your journey via the button Route the route display, you can use Launch AR Start AR navigation accordingly.

Google explains that this feature is primarily intended for navigation while walking and should not be used while driving.For example, when your smartphone stops pointing the camera at the environment, the classic 2D/3D map is displayed and the screen turns off after a certain time.

Avoid traffic jams

Maps can also help in the car. If you are on a longer route or in a city with a lot of traffic, Maps will suggest you live alternatives on the road. This happens automatically on your daily commute, as Maps can anticipate your destination based on your timeline (above).

If you have Maps as your navigation device, you will also get Internet-based traffic jam info. These appear at the bottom of the navigation and you have to accept them actively. If you don’t do that, the optimized route will be ignored and you will get into the avoidable traffic jam.

Drive off: Start navigation immediately

For the navigation function of Google Maps you typically have to enter your destination first and then you can start navigating. Delays in positioning are the result. Now Google has the option "Go" integrated into the side menu. Google Maps will immediately switch to navigation mode and use GPS to determine your current location. In the meantime, choose your destination. Google offers shortcuts to restaurants and gas stations, you can use your search history or simply enter a destination.

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Start driving immediately with Google Maps / © Screenshot: ANDROIDPIT

Select your means of transportation

Google Maps offers four different modes of transportation, which you can access by clicking the icon at the bottom right of the screen. Depending on what you have selected, you will see a car, a train, a pedestrian or a cab here. If you tap on this, you can change the mode by tapping on the corresponding icon on top of the display.

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In Google Maps you can choose between different means of transportation. / © NextPit

Set route preference

On the screen where you see the different modes of transport, you can also select your preferred type of public transport, such as bus or trains only. You can also specify here whether you would like to change several times.

Save important places

If you click in the menu on My Places taps, you can save places you visit often. Home and work are useful ideas, but you can also save other locations and plan your route there faster. In this menu you can also add your own icons to the saved addresses.

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Set your own icons for your saved locations in Google Maps. / © NextPit

Use gestures

You surely know that you can zoom in or out by using two fingers to zoom in or out on the map. If you have only one hand free, you can also: double tap on the screen and keep your finger on the map afterwards. Now move it up to zoom out or down to zoom in.

You can also tilt the map by sliding with two fingers. Up to tilt it more and down to tilt it less. If you rotate with two fingers, you can also rotate the map. Often the map is displayed as a 3D model in the process.

Plan your stops

If you want or need to make a stop along the way, you can simply adjust your route accordingly. Tap on the magnifying glass in navigation mode and options will be suggested to you, for example cafes. You can also search for something specific. Google Maps informs you how much time the planned detour will cost you, so that you can choose the fastest option.

Social features in Google Maps

Temporarily share your location with your friends

You are traveling in a group in the city and want to split up but still know where everyone is? Then the location sharing is great. This is how you can follow each other’s every move for a duration that you specify.

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Share your location temporarily or permanently with a public link or with Google contacts. / © NextPit

If you are on your way to a friend by car, you can share your position with him until you arrive. Then your friend will even see a countdown counting down your remaining travel time. This is exactly what makes many calls while driving unnecessary.

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Contacts appear with your user pictures on Maps. Your arrival time at the respective destination will also be displayed if you have shared the route. / © NextPit

Create/Share/Import Places Lists

Friends ask you for travel tips in a certain city? Do them a special favor and create a list they can open directly with Maps. You go to My Places> Saved> New. Then, one by one, mark the locations on the map and add them to the appropriate list. Finally you can send the link to the list to your friends.

google maps places

Share places with other people. / © NextPit

More tips and solutions to problems with Google Maps

Improves accuracy of GPS and compass

In all my Android devices so far, I always had the same problem: the compass points in the wrong direction at first. In order to calibrate the smartphone, you need to do some twists and turns with the smartphone, i.e. perform a few loops. Only then does the arrow in Google Maps point in the right direction.

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Waving the smartphone around funny until the compass knows the way. / © NextPit

GPS accuracy is a more complex issue. Rule of thumb is: your smartphone needs clear line of sight to the sky. Because the antennas must be able to see the positioning satellites, otherwise nothing will come of satellite navigation. We collect more tips in the separate article.

Google Maps: Use offline maps and save data

Set your in the Maps settings Only WLAN, only previously downloaded offline maps are used. Navigation for cars still works, too, but pedestrian or bike navigation is no longer possible. The search for public transport or cabs is logically also eliminated. We’ll cover more on this topic separately:

We update this article regularly. Comments may therefore refer to an older version of the article and appear out of context.

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