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Here's why I've been using Google Maps all wrong

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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.

androidpit google maps 1
Find out how to get more out of Google Maps. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

Fill your car and your stomach with ever-increasing ease. / © Google

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.

androidpit google maps update offline areas
You can now select and download areas for offline use. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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Cory Schmidt

Cory Schmidt

A Minnesota native, Cory's background is in writing and editing. He received his BA from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and his MA from the University of Kansas. He joined the Android community in 2009 and is excited to be contributing at AndroidPIT.

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  • 1
    Neutral Dude Nov 15, 2018 Link to comment

    Rubbish clickbait crap.

  • 49
    storm May 23, 2017 Link to comment

    As long as you're getting what you want out of an app, who's to say you're using it wrong? I use Street View only a few times a year if that and usually on my PC. And Location Sharing never. I'm fine with the features being available, but there isn't a right or wrong about features as long as your particular needs are met by what you're doing.

  • 1
    Amit Reg Jun 15, 2016 Link to comment

    HERE Maps are best as you can have all the map data offline for a complete country / state whatever you need :)

  • 6
    Martin Ephgrave Jun 5, 2016 Link to comment

    I use Here maps as I do not always have a signal

  • Nabeel Khan 1
    Nabeel Khan Jun 5, 2016 Link to comment

    There is a function called "near me" which can be used to pull up nearly anything... Like restaurants near me, hospitals near me =) works like a charm and made my life easier.

  • Mark G. 28
    Mark G. Jun 4, 2016 Link to comment

    I use Maps constantly and like to have a look at my timeline.

    Incident general Maps is very accurate and good for driving directions.

    But it's very poor if your not in a built up area with lots of wifi hotspots. It tends to use Wifi networks more than the GPS. This makes it miss a lot of places on the timeline especially if I'm walking to said destination.

    When I compare the map created via Samsung Health app whilst walking or running is so much more accurate than Maps.

    They need to improve the overall quality of the features provided.

    Peace ✌

  • 7
    Stefan Q. Jun 3, 2016 Link to comment

    Liked this article and agree with the usefulness of the Maps features described.
    But the description of mutual sharing of current location using WhatsApp or e-mail in order to organize spontaneous meet ups made me wonder about the awkwardnes of the procedure.
    This kind of pinging a bunch of people should really be integrated right into maps and include mutually showing all nearby participants directly on the map. Maybe for a limited period of time of that group activity.
    This could also be accompanied with a Hangout group chat.

  • 10
    parayil h. Jun 3, 2016 Link to comment

    I don't think it is getting" sucks" in India.The problem is not a generalized one. It is working perfectly for me.

  • 3
    Droidliner Jun 3, 2016 Link to comment

    Nothing new for me in the article but I use Google Maps a lot for public transport. It's not quite as good as the operator/government's own tool in terms of finding the best routes, pricing info and vehicle tracking but it works and it's easy to access from my phone.

  • Parvind Chahal 21
    Parvind Chahal Jun 3, 2016 Link to comment

    in india it sucks

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