Discovering your location or setting a destination has never been easier. We are far from the days when we pulled out a map from the glove compartment of a car and opened it and tried to find a location. Now your smartphone is your map and GPS device. Google has been at the forefront of this revolution for some time, thanks to Google Maps, one of the oldest navigation apps. Over the years, Google Maps has expanded with useful features that allow you to plan a commute, take a virtual stroll through a neighborhood, take it out loud, turn-by-turn navigation or find great things to do in your area. Apple Maps went into spitting distance and Waze works well for drivers, but Google Maps is a more fully featured navigation app that is our Editor’s Choice pick.
Where to Find Google Maps?
The strength of Google Maps is its ubiquity. Most Android smartphones Google Maps should be preinstalled alongside a number of other Google apps. Google Maps can be used on: iOS and iPadOS devices and both platforms are more or less the same.
There is voice, turn-by-turn navigation with many useful map tools on both Android and iOS. If you do not have a smartphone, you can access Google Maps via any web browser ( Apple Maps unless you’re using a search engine that is particularly touching Apple’s MapKit JS framework Like Duckduckgo). Google Maps is free on every platform.
Getting Around the City
I tested Google Maps on a Google Pixel 3a phone. Google Maps greets you with a colorful, high-contrast map of your immediate surroundings. Very readable with white for public streets, bright yellow for highways, green for parks, blue for waterways, and gray or dull yellow for buildings. Assuming location services are turned on, the app displays a blue dot reflecting your location along with a sight cone showing the rough direction you’re looking at. Maps are extremely useful for navigating your immediate surroundings.
You will find the search bar at the top. This allows you to enter a city, town, business or street name powered by an autocomplete feature based on Google searches. For example, if you are looking for a local CVS Pharmacy, you could type “CVS”, “pharmacy” or their full address to get a list of places nearby. It is organized in useful cards that you can slide. Each card includes the name of the location, its address, the distance from your current location, a Call icon and a Directions icon that allows you to quickly find a route to that location.
Google has been placed under the search bar in a helpful way pointing to frequent search categories. These categories include gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores and hotels, or more specific amenities such as parks and gyms. Is your car low on gas? Help is just a tap away of Google Map.
The Layers icon changes the displayed map. There are three types of maps: the default version, the Satellite version that takes real pictures from Google’s watchful eyes floating in orbit, and the Terrain view that shows the topography and elevation. (The terrain is great if you’re a frequent walker.) The Layers menu also includes map layers and a 3D layer showing polygonal buildings, including useful, live traffic, public transport and bike routes.
Google Street View is a mode that lets you switch to any main road and look around in a 360-degree panorama style. Street View is incredibly useful if you need to match a placemark to your current location. However, some pictures taken by Street View are sadly out of date and show photos from years ago. Initially, Street View allows you to take virtual tours inside specific buildings so you can see the layout of a store without leaving your seat. Apple Maps recently added Street View functionality with the awesome Look Around feature, but it lacks Google Maps’ indoor map. Owned by Google Waze It does not have a Street View-like feature.
Google uses a catalog of location data, landmarks, photos, and reviews that keep it one step ahead. Google cannot be unrivaled in terms of navigation and travel planning, especially in small cities. Everywhere I was looking for in my city and some small towns nearby appeared immediately. Even a hidden conversation bar I know could not be hidden from Google Maps search. Waze is based on similar data but focuses on driving, so it doesn’t help people walking or biking in their town or city. Apple Maps is great in big cities, but for smaller towns it catches up with Google in terms of the information it displays.
Adding Context to Your Life
Maps gives you access to the extensive data the search giant has collected. This information is neatly gathered in the tabs below the app.
First up is Discover, which is all about local attractions. Searching any location reveals a host of additional information for the brave explorer. For example, if you are in Los Angeles, you’ll get suggestions for the best brunch and bar venues or historical places you might want to check out. Plus crowd-sourced photos of local sights and hangouts, here with helpful instructions and customer ratings at your fingertips.
The Go tab contains your frequently visited locations and displays estimated arrival times and traffic conditions. It also gives recommended trips based on recent searches you have made. The Saved section contains locations you’ve marked, including friends and family homes, spots on your bucket list, and your favorite restaurants. If you want to contribute to Google’s key information database, Contribute allows you to review businesses or add location photos.
Follow the instructions
When you’re ready to go on a trip, you just need to search for your destination in the search bar. The starting point can be your current location determined by the GPS or another address you are looking for. You can add multiple stops along your route, with a maximum of 10 stops per journey.
Once you’ve decided on your route, Google Maps gives you an estimated transit time depending on whether you are driving, using public transport, pedestrian, cycling or flying. The route is colored to show current traffic: blue for smooth cruising, yellow for minor delays and red for bumper-to-bumper traffic. Also, there are multiple route options that help you bypass difficult traffic. Apple Maps shows similar information, but maps representing small towns are less detailed than Google’s. Google Maps also allows you to download instructions for offline use; This is especially useful if your cell phone has a weak signal.
Once you’re on the road, Maps provides audible, turn-by-turn directions. You can mute the digital navigator, use Google Assistant voice commands to redirect yourself, or search to add a stop to your route. In 2019, Google also added an augmented reality option; If you walk by and give Maps access to your camera, the app places directions over the camera view. Not everyone needs it, but it is a feature currently only available on Google Maps.
Just between you and me
There is one area where Google Maps stands in comparison to Apple Maps: privacy. Maps are linked to the larger Google cloud with only Location History turned off by default. The app has an Incognito mode that doesn’t save your search or location history or personalize maps with your Google data. Despite this, reports still collects your location data Even if you use a privacy setting to prevent this. Data has unique identifiers that are not personally linked to you, but these are still data Google has about you.
If you really want Google to do it stop watching you, you have to study a little. Apple, on the other hand, is more concerned with privacy issues and Apple Maps stores more data like your directions on your device rather than in the cloud.
Still King of the Road
Google Maps is the most holistic mapping application on the market. It can give you quick directions, transit estimates, and even suggestions on what to do when you get to your destination. Where Google really hesitates about collecting data; If you’re a privacy person, you have to skip more than a few hoops to really give up.
If you have an Android phone, Google Maps is an easy choice. Apple Maps has gotten much better on iOS, but in some cases – especially in smaller cities – Google’s app is still the most popular navigation app. Wave is a good choice for drivers. However, Google Maps is the most comprehensive map service for travelers, hikers, cyclists and city explorers and is the Editors’ Choice of the category.
Check out for more information on this excellent app 25 Google Maps Tricks You Should Try.
Since its launch in 2005, Google Maps has been ruling as the king of navigation apps. While competition has come closer to competition in recent years, Google Maps offers superior directions, especially if you’re out of the ordinary.
Google Maps Features
|Real Time Traffic||Yes|
|Browser Based Version||Yes|