Google Maps for Android is more amazing than we tend to give it credit for. Our phones have replaced those chunky, expensive dedicated navigation devices thanks to Google Maps. We can find our way pretty much anywhere with ease.
But as Google Maps has grown over the years, so have its features, and there might be some tricks hiding just under the surface that you never ran into that’ll change the way you navigate.
1. See Your Speed & Speed Limits
This feature actually hasn’t made it into Google Maps yet, but you can add it by downloading Velociraptor – Map Speed Limit from the Play Store. Simply download the app, tweak the settings to your liking, then head over to Google Maps.
You should now see a little bubble off to the side that shows your current speed and (more importantly) the speed limit of the road you’re on. You can even set it up to alert you when you’re going a certain amount over the speed limit so that you don’t get a speeding ticket.
2. Add a Pit Stop & Check Gas Prices
This recent addition to the Google Maps app has been requested for a long time. Now, once you’ve started navigating somewhere, you can tap the search button (the magnifying glass) to search for another location and add it as a pit stop. Or, if you know you’ll need a pit stop before you leave, tap the three-dot icon in the upper right and choose “Add stop.”
Even more handy, if you search for gas stations, it’ll show you the gas prices at different locations so that you can save a few bucks on your fill-up.
Unfortunately, it only supports adding one pit stop at a time for now, but it’s still extremely useful.
3. Plan Trips Ahead of Time
Ever wondered how public transportation will be at a certain time in the future when planning out a journey? Well, there’s a (feature inside of) an app for that.
Just get directions from one location to the other as normal, tap on the public transportation tab, then tap the “Depart At” button. It will automatically be set for whatever time it currently is, but you can change it to another time, change it to “Arrive By”, or even choose to just take the last available transit.
These estimates are usually pretty good since it’s public transportation. Unfortunately, for estimating car trips ahead of time, you’ll still need to use Google Maps on the web.
4. Change Your View
There have been a few times where I’ve had older relatives show me their phones and say, “What happened to Google Maps? Where am I? Why’s the map like this?”
If that’s ever happened to you, you might’ve accidentally found one these features. The first feature is changing your map’s orientation by tapping on the compass. Tap it once to orient north, and tap it again to orient based on where you’re facing.
The second feature is seeing virtual building sizes. Tap on the screen with two-fingers and drag down to view all the buildings in a certain area. When you want to return to a bird’s eye view, just two-finger swipe back up.
5. Add Labels to Locations
You probably already know that you can “Star” items to save them for later in My Places, but did you know that you can also add labels to places? The strange thing is, you can’t add labels to real places that are registered in Google Maps. Let me explain.
Say you visit a store and want to remember where it is. You can Star it, and its name will appear under Your Places. You can’t add a label to that place because it already has a name.
On the other hand, let’s say you visit a friend’s house. Obviously, they don’t have their address registered as a business in Google Maps, so just a generic address pops up. Well, that’s when you can add a Label to a place, name it “Friend’s house”, and it will also appear under Your Places.
6. Long Press to Navigate Quicker
We mentioned this briefly when going over everything you need to know about Google Maps, but it bears repeating. When you look up a location, a blue button appears in the bottom right that you can tap to view the different ways of navigating there.
However, if you’re already fine with the first method of navigation that it chooses (for example, driving by shortest time), then you can just long-press that blue circle to hop right into navigation.
7. Send Directions to Your Phone
Ever look up directions on Google Maps on your computer, only to realize that you actually need them on your phone to navigate? No problem, if you’re signed into the same Google account on both your computer and your smartphone, you can just choose “Send to Phone”, and you’ll get a notification that’ll take you to the directions in Google Maps.
8. Navigate Inside Malls
Google Maps isn’t only for roads; in fact, it works for some malls! If you’re near a major mall, zoom in to see the layout of that mall. You can find specifics stores, find the restrooms, and even navigate through the separate floors.
9. See Where You’ve Been
While this used to be a feature reserved for the desktop, it’s finally made its way to Android. Swipe in from the left or tap the three-line icon in the upper left and go to “Your timeline”. Here, you can navigate to any day in the past and see exactly where you went.
Creepy? Maybe, but I love it. You can always delete days if you want (or disable the whole thing). You can also add notes to certain days to remember what you did.
It’s certainly not perfect, though. Mine seems to think I went biking to the grocery store a few days ago, even though I don’t own a bike. Nice try, Big Brother.
10. Double Tap to Zoom
This is a simple one, but it’s a game-changer for one-handed usage. Want to zoom in? Double tap the screen quickly but hold your finger on the screen after the second tap, then drag it down. To zoom out, do the same thing but drag up.
If you’ve ever fumbled with your phone attempting to do a one-handed pinch-to-zoom, I sincerely hope this helps you out in the future.
What’s Your Favorite Google Maps Trick?
These are just some of my favorite tricks, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an exhaustive list. If you’ve got any others, be sure to let us know down in the comments!
Also, if you’ll be using Google Maps on your computer, be sure to try Lite Mode if it’s feeling a little sluggish.