I am so happy to have Google Maps back again.
This app is wonderful. Basically intuitive and chock full of features.
However, since many of my readers are relatively new to their gadgets, and I don’t want them (you?) missing out on all of the Google-map-goodness, this blog post will show a newbie how to use some of these features.
When you first launch the app, make sure you agree to let Google Maps use your location. This way you’ll be able to use it, fully. Then, whenever you tap the little location arrow, (shown here on the right), the map will show you your current location. This is amazingly helpful to orient yourself as you wander in a city, walk on a trail, or countless other situations. It also enables the app to be able to give you directions to wherever you are going from wherever you are.
Now let’s look at somewhere you plan to go. For an example, I typed “Columbus Circle” in the search box at the top, and you can see the map whooshed me right over to Columbus Circle in New York City. (Notice in the bottom right hand corner it is also telling me how long it will take me to drive there from my house.)
Of course you can zoom in and zoom out, but we are going to look at a few other features. Tap on the little tab of dots, over on the right side of the screen.
When you tap on those little dots, a screen will pop out from the side, offering you several options: Traffic, Public Transit, Satellite and Google Earth.
Just tap on Traffic for (wait for it…) Traffic :)! Simple but effective, red lines indicating a jam. This has been helpful for me more than once. I remember we almost got off a highway in an unfamiliar location, but by looking at the “traffic” part of the Google Maps, I was able to see that the jam-up stopped just another mile or so ahead, so we stayed on the highway.
Tap on Public Transit for public transportation information. This feature does not work in all areas, but the app will tell you when it doesn’t work, so you don’t waste time trying to look up what can’t be done. But for city commuters, this feature is golden.
Satellite will change your map to the satellite view, and Google Earth will take you out of this app and open Google Earth.
Many people are excited about the return of Google Street View. Here is how you find Street View:
Search and find the location of your choice.
Touch and hold a location on the map.
Now, at the bottom of the page, touch the address bar that appears there, and slide your finger UP.
There is it! Tap on the street view photo, and it will enlarge and you will be able to look around, and walk the streets.
I tried Street View for a variety of locations, and I was usually successful. There were spots where I’ve seen Street View access before, and yet they didn’t show up for me, today. I don’t know why.
Other details will show up for businesses, such as reviews and links to websites.
A new feature is a voice turn-by-turn navigation. I have not had the opportunity to give this a test drive, but it certainly looks exciting.
To test it out, I typed in the name of our local mall, as if I wanted to go there.
Google Maps put a pin in it.
I tapped on the picture of the car (I want driving directions).
Several alternative routes popped up from the bottom of my screen, and I selected the road I’d like to use.
I was then presented with a map screen, with the word START in the bottom right hand corner. Giving START a tap, the voice directions began!
There are other things to explore in this app, as well, but this should be enough to get you started.
I’ve heard people say that they don’t need maps because they “know where they’re going.” Yes, but this is so much more than just a map, and it is really only through use that you will become familiar with all it has to offer. I suggest, if you are new to Google Maps, give it a try the next time you are a passenger in a car. Open the app, and tap the location arrow, and watch as the little blue dot (you) moves along on the map. Test out the traffic. This will begin to introduce you to all it can do. Don’t be afraid to tap around the app. It’s the best way to learn.