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Google Maps gets new features and updates more often than you think, and if you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed a number of changes that can make getting around a lot easier.
Here, we’ll talk about 10 newest settings that give you more ways to use Google Maps. If you’ve been using a different planning app, you may want to go back to Google Maps to use these tips. Unless otherwise noted, the tools we’ve listed here are for the Google Maps apps on Android and iOS.
1. Dietary requirements
When you search for local restaurants on Google, you want to see the ones that meet your dietary needs (if the restaurants have given Google this information). In the mobile app, tap the profile icon in the top right corner, then tap Settings, Manage your settings, and Diet. This takes you to a list where you can choose things like gluten-free and vegan. To confirm your decisions, tap the Update Preferences button.
2. View occupation of the area
Google Maps has long had the ability to estimate how busy a location is, but it’s just added the ability to see how crowded or not a specific region is (useful for planning your trips or your meals). When you zoom into an area that is already quite crowded, the map will show a label that says “Busy Area”; when you tap this, you’ll get the familiar bar graph showing how busy you are right now and how busy you’re expected to be.
3. Check restaurant prices
When you tap on a restaurant on Google Maps, you can get a lot of useful information. Now, that information includes the average price per person when you eat there, which is helpful if you’re on a budget. Google gets this information from a lot of people. You’ll see how many people have added to the pricing data, and you can tap the “Add Price” button on the page to share what you know with others.
4. Directions from desk to phone
You may not know that Google Maps works better on more devices than you thought. If you look up navigation directions in a desktop web browser while you’re signed in to your Google account, you can send the same directions to Google Maps on an Android or iOS phone that’s linked to the same account. Just click the button that says “Send directions to my phone” above the routing options. You can also send an email or text message with a link to the information.
5. Take a fuel efficient route
When you’re looking for directions between two places on a map, you might see a green leaf icon next to an eco-alternate route. This will save you money on gas and help the environment at the same time. Tap the route to switch to it, and then see how much gas you’ll save. You can set the app to always take the fastest route by going to settings and tapping on Navigation Options.
6. Share the ride with others
This one is good if you’re meeting up with family or friends and using Google Maps to get there – you can allow other people to follow you on Google Maps and see when you’re going to get there by tapping the navigation directions at the bottom and then clicking Share Progress From the trip. Your location won’t be shared with anyone after the ride is over, so you don’t have to worry about people following you for the rest of the day.
7. Check future travel times
If you’re going to drive somewhere in the future, you need to know how busy the roads will be when you get there, not when you’re planning your route. Look for directions to travel, then tap the three dots (top right) and choose Set departure or arrival time. You can then set the time of the trip and see what the traffic is likely to be based on what it usually is at that time of day.
8. Keep offline maps up to date
If you’re somewhere without cell service or just want to save data while you’re away from home, offline maps can come in handy. Tap “Offline map settings” under “Settings” and make sure “Auto download of recommended maps” is turned on. This will download maps of places based on where you are now and where you have been in the past. Turn on “Update offline maps automatically” to keep these maps up to date.
9. Go incognito on Google Maps
It can be useful to have Google Maps track your movements so you can quickly discover a restaurant you want to revisit or check traffic on your commute, but there may be cases where you want to temporarily turn this tracking off. You can access Google Maps incognito mode, which works similar to Google Chrome, by tapping on your profile picture in the top right corner and selecting Turn on incognito mode from the menu.
10. Get updates on the place you like
Now you can follow the places and businesses you like on Google Maps. You can also say what interests you, like your neighborhood, places you’d like to go on vacation, etc. To make sure you get more information about these areas, tell Google Maps by tapping on your profile picture (top right) and selecting Settings and Manage your areas.
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