Of course, probably almost everyone has used Google Maps for navigation before. But the map service also has dozens of other functions up its sleeve that hardly anyone knows about. We have tried the most important ones for you and will tell you where to find them. […]
Google’s map service has a lot ahead of the competition: thanks to the close connection with other Google services – especially the search engine – you can not only find from place to place on the maps, but you can find out in detail about all the points drawn. And it doesn’t stop at information: thanks to cooperation with third-party providers, hotels can be reserved, tables can be booked in restaurants and tickets for a musical can be bought.
Google Maps is no longer just a map service, but a pocket travel agency that links all the information from the Google universe to a worldwide map. Google Maps can be used directly on the computer via browser (maps.google.com ), but the service is most useful if you use it on your smartphone via an app, which is available free of charge for both Android and iOS devices in the corresponding store. These apps are updated regularly, but only with an interval of about three months, new functions are actually added. We have taken a close look at the innovations of the last twelve months and present them here.
The navigation in Google Maps is reliable and always up to date. No wonder, because Google diligently collects the data of its users while they are on the go, and immediately notices if it is harming somewhere. There are four innovations in this area:
Navigation with augmented reality
Figure 1: Live View makes navigation even easier for pedestrians
Thanks to Live View, you don’t even have to be able to read maps anymore if you want to get from A to B on foot with the support of your smartphone. You simply look at the screen and see in which direction the arrows point, Picture 1. Using augmented reality (“Augmented reality”, AR for short), roads and, depending on the location, other things in the field of view of the camera are written to. This service only works in places where there is Google Street View.
How to use the service: enter the start and destination location in the route planner as usual. For transportation, select Walk and tap Live View. The first time you need to give the app access to the camera to make the service work. After that, briefly point the smartphone at different buildings so that Google can determine your exact location. As soon as this has been done, the direction arrows and waymarks are displayed on the camera image.
Picture 2: Show the sights along the route (c) PCtipp.ch
If you use Google Maps to navigate, you can have sights displayed along your route – no matter whether you are on foot or by car, Picture 2.
How to use the service: enter the destination of your route in the search and select Route at the bottom of the screen. Start the navigation function by tapping Start. Swipe up the notification area at the bottom of the screen and tap Search along the route. Then select either Attractions or type in the search field Landmarks a. Immediately along the route, places (monuments, museums, buildings) are indicated that are classified as “worth seeing”. This includes how much additional time must be taken into account in order to visit you. If you tap on one of the sights, it is integrated into the route and the travel time is recalculated.
Improved congestion information
Figure 3: There is now even more detailed information on traffic jams (c) PCtipp.ch
Anyone planning a route has been receiving information about where traffic is stalling for a long time. The sections of the route are colored red on the route. Based on the symbols, you can see which traffic obstruction is involved, and you can call up detailed information by tapping, Figure 3.
How to use the service: Tap on the traffic jam icon, see how long the expected waiting time is.
Request public transport departure times
The stops of public transport are also marked on Google Maps – from the tram stop to the main train station. Tap on a stop, see which lines are running there, Figure 4. Now you can also display all departure times per line.
Figure 4: Google Maps is also a timetable (c) PCtipp.ch
How to use the service: Swipe the white information card up with your finger. Then select your line by tapping on it. All departure times are now displayed.
If you are looking for a place, be it a museum, a restaurant, a bicycle dealer or even just a toilet: with Google Maps you will find it. Just enter a suitable term in the search field and the results will be displayed immediately in the current map section. Here, too, there are some exciting innovations that make it easier to find.
Better results thanks to filters
Figure 5: You can use filters to restrict the search (c) PCtipp.ch
The two most important filters are offered in virtually every search: Now open and top rated, Picture 5. But the search options offered by Google Maps are even better. Because these depend on the offer in the respective map section, which means that they are always slightly different. If you are in a museum district, the suggested keywords look very different than if you are on a mountain hike.
How to use the service: Tap the Explore command at the bottom of the map section and look at the search suggestions. If you then select one of the suggestions, the appropriate places will be displayed in the map section.
Find a hotel
Google Maps is the best way to not only find hotel rooms, but also to reserve them. To do this, for example, give Hotel Berlin Kreuzberg enter the search form and the corresponding section with all possible accommodations will be displayed on the map. You can refine the search by specifying the travel time, defining a price range or displaying only hotels with top reviews. Now there is also the possibility to filter by equipment. For example, you can only display hotels that have a free parking space and where dogs are allowed.
Image 6: Google Maps supports you in finding and reserving hotels (c) PCtipp.ch
How to use the service: Swipe left on the search filters until the Features button is displayed, Figure 6 A. Tap on it first and then on the features you expect from your hotel B. Now only those hotels that meet your criteria will be displayed.
Movies & Seasons
Picture 7: Fancy a movie? Google Maps will also help you here (c) PCtipp.ch
The information that Google stores on the map at cinemas has become much more detailed: which films are in the program and their showtimes are now displayed directly in the app, Figure 7.
How to use the service: search for cinemas (or for cinemas in a specific place) in a map section. If you tap a cinema directly on the map, you can see the route planning information at the bottom of the screen. If you slide this window upwards with your finger, you can see which films are being played at which time at some cinemas. At some cinemas, after tapping on the screening time, you can even buy tickets through a third-party provider.
Use maps anonymously
Figure 10: Your user data is not stored in incognito mode (c) PCtipp.ch
Many of the innovations presented in this article access user data. It makes you wonder if you really want the data to be stored in the profile for every single search query. For such cases, Google has provided the brand new incognito mode for Maps, which many users already know from their Internet browser. Once the function is switched on, the
- no more search history data stored in the account,
- location history or shared locations no longer updated,
- the activities carried out are not used to personalize Google Maps.
How to use the service: In Google Maps, tap on your profile picture, image 10 A. Select Enable incognito mode B. In the window that opens, tap Close. Instead of your profile picture, you will now see the icon of incognito mode. To switch back to normal mode, tap on this image and on the Disable incognito mode option.