Almost everyone uses Google Maps for car travel, but there are a whole series of hidden functions that can make our trips easier
Google Maps is an almost indispensable service nowadays: it allows us to move through unknown cities, or to know the traffic situation in real time just by consulting our smartphone.
The features of Google Maps are many, but there are few users who can say they know this tool well and know how to use all its potential. Let's discover together some of the easiest and most interesting tricks of Google Maps.
Set home and office address on Google Maps
Let's start with the most convenient function of all: save our home or work address for future navigation. Not having to type the address of our home or office every time really simplifies life. With this function we will immediately know which road to take to avoid traffic, but also which public transport to use to get home faster.
Setting the most used addresses is very easy: once you launch the app, you click on Add home address or Add office address. Just complete these sections with the relevant streets and you're done (you can even use "stickers" on the map for our reference locations).
Those who live in a big city are always afraid of getting trapped in traffic: after a stressful day at work, getting stuck in long lines is certainly not what you want. In this sense, Google Maps can be very useful thanks to the special function that indicates, through the use of different colors, the traffic situation on the chosen road. Green means flowing, yellow means medium traffic, red means long waits in traffic queues.
Not all accounts have this function activated by default: to remedy this, just go to the menu (the three horizontal lines) at the top left and click on Traffic.
When driving, it is necessary to be cautious, and therefore respect the speed limits to avoid unnecessary risks and to avoid the possibility of getting heavy fines. Google offers a service on Maps that allows you to always know the maximum speed allowed on the road you are driving on. However, it is necessary to download a third-party app, Velociraptor, which will show us the limit to be respected and will also tell us how much time is left until we arrive at our destination.
If we are planning a long trip, Google Maps can also be useful for measuring the total distance between two or more points that we will touch during our journey, whether this is done by vehicle or by car. To get this information, all you have to do is select the route from point A to point B.
On the Desktop version you can do this by right-clicking and selecting the item "Directions to here" and then the item "Directions from here". Clicking on the "Add another destination" item will also allow you to check the distance between three points. And so on, up to organizing a very complex route.
Google Maps is not only a useful application for navigating on maps: the service from Google also provides useful information about the places in our itineraries (opening hours of parks, monuments or commercial establishments, reviews, phone numbers, websites). But Google Maps also helps those who do not move by car: it also allows you to view the information necessary to reach a particular place by bus, train or other means (such as bicycle). And in many cities, it even shows subway schedules.
You can even plan a future trip with Google Maps. When we set up a navigation on Google Maps, the service by default calculates our departure as imminent. Often, however, many of us check a few hours before the actual start of the transfer the roads to take or the means to use. Since the best choices identified by the app can change according to the time of day, if we are looking at an itinerary for the future we have to click on the Options item present under the two selected destinations and, here, enter the precise date and time of our departure.
Share navigation directions
Sometimes it may happen that we need to suggest to a friend how to get to a place. Explaining by voice is never easy: the best move is instead to set up navigation on Google Maps and then share the navigation directions with our friend. How? Just select the "Share Directions" option from the menu.
We're reviewing the miles we've driven in the last month for work, but can't quite remember where we went on a particular day? No problem: Google Maps keeps a log of our movements divided by date and time. Be careful, though: by default the Timeline function is disabled. To activate it, just go to the menu of Google Maps and then click on History.
Among the lesser known functions of Google Maps, there is one that allows us to remember where we parked the car: just save a tap on the blue sticker of the location. With the "Add Note" feature, you can also add a reminder to remind yourself when your parking expires.
Step directions to public transportation
Since December 2017, Google Maps has been offering Android users a new feature that serial travelers have proven to appreciate: step-by-step directions to public transportation. As it already happens when you use Google Maps for car, bike or walking trips, you can receive precise and punctual directions even when you are on board public transport.
Just do a normal search, press on the public transport icon (recognizable by the stylized front of a train) and choose one of the proposed routes. Once on board the bus or streetcar, Google Maps will update our position and tell us exactly where and when we should get off, thus avoiding making a wrong stop.
A very useful feature for those who go hiking or visit a foreign city - where roaming is still active - is offline maps. To download them, we go to the Menu and select the Offline Areas item. Here we can choose the map of a place we like, or download the map of the most recently visited places (which Google will suggest based on our history).