Google Maps is a favorite of many people. To help those of us with oatmeal for brains find our way around, the Maps Android app does all the work for us. We can even use it to identify locations to eat delicious food, like, umm, oats.
But there’s a lot more to Google Maps than meets the eye, and chances are you’re missing out on at least a few useful hidden features lying within the Android app. It seemed like a good moment to go deep into the ever-evolving Android foundation and think about some of its more off-the-beaten-path sophisticated possibilities with the imminent release of Android 12.
Take a look at these options the next time you open Maps on your phone and prepare to see the world around you in a new light.
1. Automated trip organization
Google’s Trips app, released in 2016, was a brilliant piece of work. When you receive confirmations and itineraries in your email, Trips uses this information to generate amazingly structured, easy-to-manage bundles of plans. It. Was. Awe-inspiring.
Google, on the other hand, searched its own. For those of us who had grown to rely on its ingenuity throughout its brief existence, the corporation killed off Trips, leaving us in the dark and without a viable alternative.
It appeared that way, at least at first. Today, much of Trips’ planning intelligence has been discreetly integrated into the main Maps app. It’s so easy to find that you don’t even need a map.
In other words, here’s what I’m about to tell you: On Android, open up the Maps app, hit the Go tab at the bottom, and then scroll down and search for the circular Reservations button. Using this, you can see all of the flights, car rentals, restaurant reservations, and other travel plans you’ve made in an orderly list that’s pulled from your Gmail and Google Calendar.
Is there anything you’d want to reminisce about? Your answer has been found. In Maps’ upper-right corner, tap your profile image to open the menu, then pick “Your Timeline” from the drop-down menu and look for the term “Trips” in a bar at the top. At this tucked-away location, you may see all of the information Google has amassed over the years on every single one of its users’ wanderings.
Remember that you may block or limit this function in your Google privacy settings so that you don’t have this information retrieved from other Google services into your Maps app.
2. Instant driving mode
Google Maps and Assistant work together to make it as simple as possible to access standard mid-trip services while you’re on the road in a new driving mode.
When you begin a new Maps navigation, that mode is automatically activated. To maximize its use, you may set it to start up on its own once you connect your Bluetooth device to your car’s system or even when it detects that you’re driving.
To access these choices, press your profile image in the upper-right corner of the Maps Android app, then pick “Settings” followed by “Navigation settings” and finally “Google Assistant settings” (whew!).
Look at the lines labeled “When connected to the car’s Bluetooth” and “When driving is detected” on the screen that follows. In the first example, you may tell Maps to start driving mode as soon as a connection is established—or you can tell it to bring up a prompt and ask you if you want that to happen every time. The pop-up prompt is your only alternative to the default “do nothing” behavior on the detection of auto-driving.
And suppose you ever want to activate driving mode on your own. In that case, you can start Assistant (by saying “Hey Google” or using whatever Assistant-summoning command you prefer) and then say “driving mode” — or you can give yourself a one-touch button for launching the mode by long-pressing on your home screen, selecting “Widgets,” then scrolling down to the Maps section and touching and holding the “Driving Mode” widget to place it anywhere on your home screen.
3. Pinned places
The same sites or long travels are a common occurrence in your day-to-day routine. Take use of Maps’ often-overlooked trip pinning feature to save some time. It allows you to store routine excursions and then immediately access them for convenient, on-demand navigation at any time.
The Android Maps app allows you to pin a journey from a variety of locations.
- Whenever you’re trying to find a specific location in the Maps app, you may use the Pin command to save your location to your phone’s memory.
- You may see a list of recommended locations based on your previous activities by going to the Go option at the bottom of the Maps home screen. The pushpin symbol next to a journey you’d like to take is where you’ll be able to save it.
From now on, no matter how you get to your destination, you’ll always see it at the top of the Go tab.
4. Location saving
As far back as I can remember, Car Locator was one of the most popular apps on the Android platform. No? However, I’ve been blogging about Android for about a thousand years now, so I’m not surprised. I’m either a wise old turtle, or I’m a shriveled old tortoise in related news.
It’s no longer available, but it’s a little-known truth that Google Maps itself can bookmark any place you desire and help you find it later.
Maps can help you remember where you are if you launch the app and press the blue dot showing where you are currently. You’ll see the “Save parking” option in the menu that comes up when you click on it. Don’t be tricked into thinking that this function is only for parking; you may use it to remember any place for whatever purpose you like.
That’s all there is to it: Maps will remember where you are at all times. Swipe up on the “Parking location” bar on the bottom of the screen to add further information for your squishy animal brain. Afterward, you can add notes and images to your bookmarked location (such as the level of parking you were on or the number of oat-serving places in the area), as well as set up an alert to remind you of the spot in the future.
Just press the “Parking location” bar at the bottom of the Maps app or check for the “Parking location” notification from anywhere on your phone when you’re ready to get back to your car or whatever type of site you’ve bookmarked.
5. Location sharing
Once you’ve done that, hit the blue location dot on the Maps screen and pick “Share location” from the menu that pops up. You may then tell someone where you are or give them an update on where you’re at.
Your location may be tracked in real-time on the map with this function, which can be turned off at any moment. Sharing the link to another app or service on your phone allows you to access it from any location.
6. Incognito mode
On the road to a hidden hideout? Bruce Wayne, you’ve come a long way. Your amygdala needs this information: In the Maps app, press your profile picture and select “Turn on Incognito mode.” Maps will temporarily cease remembering your location and utilizing it for future purposes if you choose this option. And even Google won’t be able to find you.
7. Location collections
Creating a collection of places is one of the most overlooked capabilities of the Android Maps app. You may revisit or share your collection with other people later. It’s a location-specific bookmarking service that’s tied to your preferred navigation genie.
To use the system, hit the Saved tab at the bottom of the Maps app, then look for the “Your list” area. You may create a new list by tapping the “New list” command in that part of the screen, and you can then give your new list a name and a description and select whether you want it to be secret, shared just with specific individuals, or public for everyone to see.
It is an excellent method to cooperate with your coworkers on the best lunch restaurants in town, or with relatives, or even with your pet chinchillas if you’ve got the time and inclination.
8. In-app media controls
Using the Maps app to manage your music is a waste of time if you can do it directly from the app itself. A main navigation bar in the app’s navigation section displays the music presently playing and lets you shift it around as required. This feature is included in the latest version of Maps.
Using Maps’ options, pick “Navigation settings” and press “Assistant default media provider” to get started. Pick one of the various services, and the service you choose will appear in your navigation interface and respond to any spoken commands sent to Assistant regarding audio playback.
9. Locked orientation
If only north were always shown face-up on a map, it would be a lot simpler to navigate. Maps can be configured to preserve a constant, locked orientation with north at the top when it’s traveling, which is excellent news for you, my fellow orientation-obsessed creature. Look under the “Navigation” section of the app’s main settings for the option titled (instead a label for)
10. Permanent dark mode
Anyone with sensitive eyes will be glad to discover an understated option in the “Navigation Settings” section of Maps’ settings: the ability of Maps to be permanently in a dark mode while navigation is enabled.
You may set Maps to transition between a bright or dark color scheme on its own, but it does so automatically. The “Color scheme” choice can be changed from “Automatic” to “Night” if you want not to be bothered by bright colors all the time.
11. A quieter voice
As someone who frequently uses Google Maps while listening to music on my phone, I can’t count how many times I’ve startled in my seat when that wonderful guidance genie’s voice suddenly comes in and yet feels 7,000 times louder than the tune behind it. However, there is a simple solution: “Guidance volume” may be found at the top of the “Navigation settings” section in Maps’ settings. “Softer” or “Louder,” if you’re brave enough! – test if it works better for your hearing.
12. Specific restaurant suggestions
Even if you don’t plan to go out, you may still locate something delicious to eat by browsing via the Maps app. For those who are looking for a certain type of sustenance, the maze of culinary possibilities in your region might quickly become overwhelming.
So, you hamster, pay attention: On the main Maps page, tap “Restaurants” to limit down the sorts of locations that will appear as suggestions. Additionally, you may choose from a wide number of characteristics, including the establishment’s hours of operation, its ratings, and whether or not it delivers. For example, you may specify if you’ve been to a particular location previously, as well as whether it’s kid-friendly, ready to be delivered, or even vegetarian-friendly.
When searching for a restaurant, press the small control icon in the upper-left corner of the search screen, then pick any filters you like.
Isn’t this a scrumptious level of control?
13. Voice commands
As a last point, Maps offers its own set of specialized voice commands that operate when you’re in the middle of a navigation. It’s as simple as saying “Hey Google” or activating the Assistant in any way you like, and then uttering the command in question.
- “How’s traffic home?”
- “How’s traffic ahead?”
- “What road is this?”
- “What’s my next turn?”
- “Show an alternate route.”
- “Show the route overview.”
- “Navigate home.”
- “Avoid tolls.”
- “Find a gas station.”
- “Avoid highways.”
- “What’s my ETA?”
- “Find a restaurant.”
- “Take me to Best Buy.”
- ”Let me know if you can locate a place that offers oatmeal.”
That final one may or may not work, but it’s always worth a chance.
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