I've been using the Google Maps app for Android all wrong. For years I put in my destination and then went from one address to another using its built in navigational capabilities. Why is this wrong? Find out, along with what I did to make my Maps experience awesome.
I started expanding my choices by searching within the app
I travel to parks on the weekends with friends and family and we always use Google Maps to get there. But after some exercise and fresh air we get pretty hungry and usually search for a restaurant nearby from Chrome. But this is the wrong approach because Google Maps for Android has tons of search functionality built into the app. I can do a search in a geographic area on the map and find different establishments. This is not only faster but provides a bigger selection.
One way to find points of interest (like restaurants) nearby is to tap on the 'My location' button on the bottom right hand of your screen. It's the one that looks like a target. Once you've clicked on it you should see button at the bottom of your screen that says 'Explore food and drinks near you'. From there you can click on restaurants and you'll see a wide selection of choices.
Google Maps for Android has tons of functionality for search within the app
After you find places to eat you can look at the opening times or connect directly to restaurant's website. Once you've decided on a place you can set it as a location and get going. If your car is low on gas you could also check for the cheapest gas stations along the way. After dinner you and your friends can find entertainment choices near the restaurant within the app.
I got the most out of Street View
I went to Iceland recently. Why did I choose this country? Because I searched through Google Maps for capital cities and looked at the Street View for Reykjavik on the Android app. Exploring it from Street View left such a strong impression that I just had to see it for myself. The app gave me a look at the cities that pictures just couldn't. I never utilized that feature for travel scouting before but now I always do.
Using Street View on Google Maps Android app is easy. First, do a search within the app for a place you're interested in visiting. Jump on the app and try searching 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France. Now long tap the little red pin in the middle of your map. A picture should appear on the lower left hand corner of your screen. Tap that picture.
Street View on the Google Maps app gives you a unique impression of cities
From here you can get a panoramic view of a pretty famous landmark. But this function can also be used to search for hotels. If you've ever arrived at your lodging location and were shocked at the locale then you probably remember that sinking feeling. Well, you can avoid it by looking at your hotel's neighborhood beforehand on the Google Maps app.
When I'm on vacations, I go exploring and get lost on purpose. I don’t follow any travel guide or scout out anything. Once I’m thoroughly disoriented, I pull up Google Maps and look at what is nearby. I know as long as I have the app that I can get anywhere. And you don't have to worry about going offline if you download the map ahead of time. Then you can use your GPS to navigate. There is a download button underneath the map that you need.
I took location sharing to the next level
Before I started sharing my current location on Google Maps I would only meet up with my friends and family when I set up a meeting. But now I have more spontaneous meetups. I don't have to get out of Google Maps to set it up. It lets me share my location and pictures right from the app.
One way you can combine a couple of things we've already discussed is to jump on Street View from your location. From there you can click on the menu button (three dots at the top right of your screen). Now you can share it via WhatsApp, email or many other options.
Once I started sharing where I was my contacts started to do the same. It was infectious. We sent out locations with a pic and we would flock. Oftentimes we have to move tables at restaurants because we have too many people. Using all of the functionality within the app opens up a world of possibilities.
What functions within the Google Maps app for Android do you think are awesome? Let us know in the comments.