Something curious happens when you start using Google Maps. The next time you tell someone you’re heading to [random town], and they start listing off directions, your brain switches off. Suddenly, your brain begins filtering out the information as useless noise. You don’t need to remember directions – Google Maps will do it for you.
Google Maps is a mapping app available on iOS and Android. It allows you to view satellite imagery, street maps, aerial photography, 360-degree panoramas, and get live traffic updates. With over 5 billion downloads to date, it’s generally thought of as one of the world’s most useful apps. It reliably gets you from A to B, eliminating the stress that comes with traveling to new locations or on high-traffic routes.
Here’s how to download Google Maps no matter what OS you’re on. If you’re on Android, navigate to the Play Store and search for the app. Currently, it’s titled Maps – Navigate & Explore. If you’re on iOS, you do the same thing but using the App Store.
Once you locate the app, all you need to do is hit the Install button, and the free app will begin installing on your home screen (or App Library if you’re using iOS14 or greater).
Back in 2017, Google removed Google Maps from Apple Watch without explanation. Three years later, and it’s back! To install Google Maps on your Apple Watch, you first need to ensure that the Google Maps app on your iPhone is version 5.52 or later, that you are running iOS 10 or greater, that your watch is running WatchOS 5 or greater, and that you have Bluetooth enabled. After you’ve checked the above, you should be able to access the app on your Apple Watch.
If you’re a total beginner, then you’ll want to know how to use Google Maps. Here is a quick guide to get you started with the basics.
When you open the app, you’ll see a map of your current location, a search bar, and some interactive information cards about your area, including places to eat and places to stay. The app is intuitive, so you shouldn’t run into problems searching for locations or exploring local points of interest.
If you know you need to regularly travel to a specific location, like your home or work, you can save these locations. This saves time because you don’t need to search for them every time. Here’s how you do this:
Tap the Saved button located in the middle of the bottom navigation bar (it looks a bit like a squashed bookmark icon).
Enter your home or work address or any other address you want to save.
In 2020, the Google Maps app celebrated its 15th birthday, and Google released a new version of the app. This release came with some new features, which we’ll cover here, along with the long-standing features.
New features include Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute, and Updates, which you can find on the bottom navigation bar. These features reflect how people use the app, giving you easy access to the app’s most powerful features.
If you’re thinking about going on vacation to New York, for example, you can use Gmaps to plan your trip. If you search for New York, you can drag up the information card and see similar information in the Explore tab. It will tell you iconic places to visit, like Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. You can click on the Local Favorites tab to get recommendations on how to eat like the locals. You can find hotels, things to do, things to eat, and city guides. The City Guides feature is excellent for anyone looking to create an itinerary because it gives you lists like:
Don’t want to see recommendations for burger places? No problem. Click on your profile icon (located on the right of the search bar), and then click Settings. From here, you navigate to Manage Your Preferences under the Exploring Places section. You can tell Google any dietary requirements, the food you’re interested in, and food you’re not interested in here.
Google takes into account traffic on the road, speed cameras, road repairs, and more to make sure you get to places on time. It will recommend an alternate route if anything changes along your way. You can also use the route planner to add stops on your journey, like visiting a gas station or fast food place.
For local hotspots like restaurants, you can find all the information you need right within the app. For example, it will tell you whether you can dine-in, get takeout, whether they do delivery. You can click on the Menu tab to see everything they serve and whether it matches your preferences. Lastly, you can click on the Reviews tab to see what other users like you think of the place.
Google Maps is a comprehensive and powerful navigation and planning app that adds enormous value to your everyday life. Google is continually updating the app to streamline the experience and add new features, so it will only get even better with time. And it’s free! There’s really no reason not to use Gmaps.