Google's newly released Maps app for the iPhone has already enjoyed a phenomenal initial reception. After over 10 million iPhone owners gobbled it up in its first 48 hours, it is likely one of the most quickly downloaded apps in the history of Apple's App Store.
Many iPhone owners have replaced Apple's half-baked Maps app with Google Maps; and as those iPhone owners are testing out Google's version in the real world, they are already finding several cool new features on the app that might not be too obvious at first.
Seriously, though: In addition to not constantly getting lost or disoriented, you can find a bunch of great features in Google Maps that will make navigating via smartphone a more convenient experience than you realized it could be. We've collected 7 handy tips, tricks and hidden gems from the Google Maps app that can ensure you're getting all you should be out of your new mapping program. While none of these crafty techniques are essential to Google Maps -- "getting you to places you want to go" remains the main function -- they do represent slick little tips that you might find helpful in daily use.
From talking to your maps to finding food fast, here's our next-level advice for the new Google Maps app that's taken over your iPhone:
Go Home Fast
At any time during your Google Maps usage, you can input a Home and Work address; once you do, those two addresses will pop up whenever you begin to type in an address in the app. You can also navigate to them quickly by typing in "Home" or "Work" into the main app search bar. You can change those addresses easily: 1) From the main screen, touch the small icon of the man's head and shoulders on the top-right of the screen. 2) Touch the gear icon to enter the Settings. 3) Touch "Edit home or work." 4) Touch either "Edit Home address" or "Edit work address" to input your own locations. NOTE: The address in the screenshot is not my personal address, but is rather the address for The Hustler Club in New York City, an establishment that, while not technically the location of my apartment, is a place that I do consider "Home."
Ask Siri To Get You Directions
Usually, if you ask Siri for directions, she's going to give you a route on Apple's Maps App; if you're reading this article, however, chances are you'd rather be navigated by Google Maps instead. There is a sneaky little bypass: Turns out, if you ask for directions and add "via transit" to the end of your command, Apple Maps will automatically bring up a screen that will allow you to navigate via Google Maps instead. (Apple Maps still can't handle transit directions, so it offers the choice of third-party transit apps; Google Maps is considered one of those third-party transit apps, and you can choose from driving, walking or transit directions from that screen). It's not a perfect workaround, but if you need to keep your eyes on the road, it's a decent alternative.
Zoom In And Out With Just One Finger
Here's another neat trick for when your hands are occupied: Usually, if you want to zoom in on a map, you need to "pinch and zoom" with two fingers, which requires you to cradle the phone in one hand and pinch-and-zoom with the other. With a non-obvious gesture, however, that's no longer an issue for a Google Maps user. If you want to zoom in, you can do so with one finger (probably your thumb). Just double tap your thumb where you want to zoom and then hold your thumb on the display: Push your thumb up to zoom in, and slide it back to zoom out. Easy as pie. The accompanying video shows you how it works, starting at around the 0:46 mark.
View Results In A List
When you search on Google Maps, by default the location results are displayed as a bunch of red dots spread out across a map. This is fine if you're choosing by distance, but sometimes you need to make a selection based on the name of the store -- if you're looking for a specific restaurant, for example. While it's not totally obvious, Google Maps does offer this List View. After you search, just touch the icon that looks (vaguely) like a few bullet points and lines on the search bar. That will bring up your results in the friendly list you're looking for.
Push, Pull And Swipe Your Way To Dinner
If you're searching by location on Google Maps, you're going to be looking at a bunch of dots on a map that represent close matches to your search. One way to navigate those dots is the List View we mentioned previously; another is to stay with the map and swipe the title card at the bottom of the screen to the left or right. Swiping left or right will bring up alternate establishments, other choices, with their Zagat ratings, prices and distances. Swiping up, meanwhile, will pompt more information about the currently selected establishment, such as its hours, phone number, photos, menus and reviews.
Get Train Times With A Touch
Apple Maps, of course, lacks support for public transit. Google Maps brings them back and offers easy access to train times, too. All of those red arrows are pointing to public transit stops in (probably the greatest neighborhood of) New York City; that means that all of those little icons representing the stations can be touched to pull up train times on Google Maps. Go ahead: Tap any of them, and G-Maps will pull up a card of the soonest train times. You can also get directions to each station and find later train times, too, with a few other taps.
Notice A Mistake? Shake Your Phone
You're probably on Google Maps because you're tired of the mistakes on Apple Maps; but errors do pop up, even in Google's much-vaunted topography. If you want to report an error, there's no need to find the button or submission field. Just shake your phone (like a Polaroid picture) a few times, and a menu will prompt you to report the mistake. It's obvious why Apple didn't implement this feature: Given the abundance of errors, too many users would have shaken loose the insides of their smartphones. With Google Maps, though, if you're unhappy with your results, or spot a store that has since closed down (I still miss you, House of Wong in Marietta, Georgia), just give your iPhone a shake to correct the error. Isn't that handy?
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