Many drivers nowadays have made it a habit to use navigation apps while driving, and it is easy to see why. Aside from the convenience of knowing how to drive to an unfamiliar location, navigation apps also help save time and fuel.
Among these apps, Google Maps is simply the best. Alphabet’s landmark software has driving directions for 194 countries, live traffic data for 600 major cities in the world, and nets more than one billion active users every month.
But here’s the thing: there might still be some features in Google Maps that you do not know about, even if you use it every single day. Here is a few that you should know about:
We’re all used to using two fingers to zoom in or out on Google Maps through the pinching motion. But there’s an easier way: just use one finger. Double-tap quickly on the screen to zoom in. Then, if you do not lift your finger at the second tap, you can move your finger up or down the screen to zoom in or out smoothly. This trick helps you quickly navigate the map while in traffic.
Save your usual locations
You don’t have to search for your destination every time you start driving. Google Maps automatically saves a history of your previous drives so you can just go back to that. To access it, tap the three horizontal lines on the left side of the search bar, then click the Your Places button. Go the Visited tab to see your previous places. And by the way, you can already set your home and work addresses for easy access.
Another useful tab under Your Places is the Upcoming tab, which shows all the places you’re planning to go in the future. Google Maps pulls data from your Gmail account or Google Calendar to be able to show this list. It seems NSA-level creepy, but the convenience makes up for it.
Not using Google Maps because you do not want to use up your data plan? Then why not save the maps offline when you are at home or office, and have access to wifi? To do so, view the location you want to download. You can zoom in or out to get the whole location, but do know that zooming out too much means you would have a larger file to download because the map is larger. Once you’re done with zooming, type the words “OK Maps” in the search bar, then tap the search button. You shall then see an option to Download the map.
If you made a mistake while choosing the location, or if you think the file is too large, you can just click the Close or Cancel button and try again.
Share your location
The new Share Location feature is useful if you want to let others know where you are. If you’re all going to a party, for example, your friends can confirm if you’re actually on the way and how far away you are. This can also be utilized if you are a part of a convoy, so you won’t be lost or left behind.
To activate it, tap the three horizontal lines on the left side of the search bar and touch the Share Location button. You will be given an option to choose how long you want to share your location and to what people you want to share it to. You can even send them a message right from the app.
Set multiple stops
Planning to go to multiple places for the day? You don’t have to search for the next destination each time you start again. Plan ahead by setting a drive with multiple stops. Remember that you cannot do this on the smartphone app, so do this on your computer before leaving the house.
Go to the Google Maps website and log in to your Google account. After logging in, click the Directions button on the top-right to set your first destination. Once you have entered this first destination, a plus button would appear. Click that to enter the second location. Do this again and again until you have entered all your destinations for the day.
One other benefit of setting your destinations online is that you have the option to avoid highways, tolls and ferries during the whole drive. Just click the Options button after setting the destinations to see the Avoid checklist.
Find a gas station
Running dangerously low on fuel? Don’t panic, because Google Maps is your savior. Just tap the search bar on top and you should see a circular button with a drawing of a gas pump. Tap on it and you should see a list of nearby gas stations, with the nearest on top. There’s even a Directions button, which will guide you on how to go there.
By the way, there are other circular buttons that can give you suggestions on where to go. If you need to withdraw cash, you can just tap the ATM button. Need some medication? Tap the chemists button. If you’re hungry, you can tap the restaurants, pubs and bars or coffee shop button. And if you’re tired, you can tap the parking or hotels button. Easy.
Add a missing place
Can’t seem to find a place? Why not just add it yourself? To do so, tap the three horizontal lines on the left side of the search bar and scroll down to find the Add a missing place button near the bottom. Then Google Maps will ask you to give the name of the place, its category, and other information like operating hours, address and phone number. Then drop a pin on the map so Google knows exactly where it is. You can even submit a photo of the place to help other commuters. Posting a photo also helps Google to verify the place faster, so try to give more than one photo if possible.