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15 incredibly useful Google Maps features you didn't know

Last Thursday (6), the Google Maps completed 15 years of existence. In more than a decade, the search giant's geolocation service has become a reference in the segment, giving rise to the emergence of other similar platforms, such as Waze and Apple Maps.

Of course, over the years, Maps has been gaining resources that have improved the user experience, making the tool much more than an alternative to be located anywhere in the world. Today, it is already possible to check points of interest in your region, save maps of entire cities to access offline, use voice commands and even remember where the car parked.

You may not know even half of everything that Google Maps can offer, as many features end up being hidden in the background. With that in mind, we?ve listed 20 of the top features available on the Google service.

1. ?Ok, Google?

Most cars currently manufactured come with an on-board system that, among some of its functions, supports personal assistants used on smartphones. And the compatibility extends to Google Maps, which can be activated using the command "Ok, Google" if you want to know pertinent information about the traffic – this, of course, without taking your hands off the wheel or neglecting to pay attention to the traffic.

Right after saying ?Ok, Google?, there are a series of commands that you can use within Maps. For example, ask "What road is this on?", "How's the traffic?", "Find gas stations," "Find restaurants," "Take me to McDonald's," and so on.

2. Dude, where's my car?

One of the most recent features launched for Maps is the possibility to see where you left your car parked. As soon as you open the application on your phone, touch the blue dot in the center of the screen, which indicates where you are at that moment. This will open a menu with some options, including saving the exact position where you left the car at Set as parking location. You can even add notes, photos and set alarms to find out what time you should return to the vehicle.

3. Real-time tracking

Maps has an option that, for many, can be quite stalker: tracking a user's location in real time. You can also share your current position with someone else.

To do this, open Maps on your phone, tap on the central blue dot – the same as we talked about in the previous topic -, but this time select the option Share your location. You can select who can see your location or generate a shared link, in addition to defining how long that view will be available. If you choose to simply leave it on, you will have to disable it manually. Whoever opens the link to your location will see your movement on Maps in real time.

4. Search along a route and add stops

Even while you're on the go, Google Maps allows you to search for other routes simultaneously. On the route screen, tap the magnifying glass icon to find gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets and other establishments until your final destination. You can also type points of interest in the search bar or add stop points by clicking on the three dots at the top of the screen and go to the option Add stop.

5. Locations in the region

Regardless of where you are, Google has a tab customized according to that region. Called ?Get to know the area?, it is located at the bottom of the screen, and features points that can attract your attention in that location, such as clubs, restaurants, hotels, parks, museums, among others. It also has recommendations and photos shared by other users and lists of what to do. At the top, there are specific sections for each type of establishment, such as pharmacies, supermarkets and gas stations.

Of course, you can search manually by typing terms like ?nearby restaurants?, ?pharmacies on Avenida Paulista?, ?things to do in Vila Olmpia?, anyway. It will depend on your final destination.

6. Get an Uber straight through Google Maps

Maps also has an option for you to call an Uber or 99 directly through the app, without having to open each of these apps first. When searching for a route, tap Routes and there is the cone of a little figure holding a bag and with his left arm raised. Touching this option, Maps displays the values ??and routes available in Uber and 99 – in other countries, there is still the option of Lyft. Just select the mode to be directed to the app of your choice.

7. Discover peak times in a given location

It is common for drivers to research in advance about the current state of traffic in their respective cities. And with Google Maps, you can predict how long it will take to reach your destination. What many people may not have the habit of checking out are the custom statistics that Maps shows in a hidden section that you access by dragging from the bottom up.

When searching for Congonhas Airport, for example, you know the time of greatest traffic in the region. With this, you can plan better to avoid queues.

8. Name your favorite places

If you go to certain places quite often, you may want to leave them already saved on Gogle Maps as favorite places. That way, you don't have to enter the names every time you go to them. You can give it any name you like – ?medical office?, ?home?, ?work? etc.

To perform this process, search for the location and touch its name at the bottom of the screen. Then touch the three-dot button at the top right and Add bookmark. You can then change the names of each location, which function as ?tags?.

9. Save your favorite locations

In addition to naming, your favorite places can be saved in a specific section within Google Maps. The scheme is the same: search for something, touch the name that appears at the bottom of the screen and select the option To save. To view your lists, go back to the main Maps menu and tap Your places. It is possible to make these lists visible only to you or share on the internet.

10. Google Street View

You should already know Street View, as this is one of the coolest features on Maps. With it, the service shows a kind of "tour" through the researched place, being possible to visit the interior of some buildings. What you probably shouldn't know is that you can make Street View follow your movements in any direction, and don't make it static until you move the screen with your fingers.

Enable this very simple feature: search for a location and touch the image that appears in the bottom left corner of the screen to open Street View. Then, tap the compass symbol at the top of the screen so that the app starts tracking your movements.

11. Going back to the past

Did you know that you can know what a place was like years ago? This feature exists on Google Maps, also through Street View. The bad news is that, for now, it is only compatible with the desktop version of the service, so you will need to open the platform in a PC browser.

With Maps open, search for an address and click on the yellow stick figure icon, in the bottom right corner of the window. Hold and drag the icon to some point on the map and, after releasing it, click on the clock drawing written ?Street View? in the upper left corner of the screen. That done, just select a date to find out what that place was like years ago.

Bearing in mind that this function is subject to availability in each region, since the Street View car may not update the database with a certain frequency.

12. Take a trip through the PC and access it on your cell phone or car

Speaking of the web version of Google Maps, know that it is possible to create a route on the computer and then access it directly through the smartphone application or on the smart panel of your car. Right after doing a search in the browser, on your left side there will be some options, just below the name of the searched place. One of these options is called Send to smartphone. All devices registered to your Google account will be displayed in this list, so that you can then select the one you want to receive the route.

13. Events and appointments

If you use Gmail and / or Google Calendar, all your appointments registered at these events can be integrated into Maps, including meetings and travel. To view this information, touch the menu in the upper left corner, go to Your places and then in seo Bookings. If you have made reservations using your Gmail account, they are automatically added to this tab.

14. Gestures

Gestures are part of an experiment that aims to improve the use of Maps. And there are four commands that further simplify navigation:

  • To zoom in or out on a map using just one hand, double-tap and, without taking your finger off the screen, move up or down to control the zoom intensity.
  • To rotate a map and change its orientation, place your index finger and thumb on the screen, dragging the two to the left or right.
  • To change the perspective, place two fingers on the map and slide both fingers up on the screen. This will take you to an ?area? view of any location you are viewing.
  • To leave a step saved the next time you're ready to browse, search for a location, then tap and hold the blue button Direction at the bottom of the screen. This will take you directly to the navigation mode, with Maps showing the best routes and paths to use at the moment.

15. Anonymous mode

Like most Google services, Maps makes use of its search history to personalize the experience and make smarter suggestions. However, if you do not want to keep a record of the places you frequent, the application has a function that enables anonymous mode for all activities done with the app activated.

To access it, touch your profile photo at the top right of the screen and select the option Enable anonymous browsing mode. The application will be restarted and when you open it again, you will see a gray bar at the top of the window and the image of a black and white doll replacing your profile image. As of, no new Maps records will be saved. To return to the previous mode, just do the same path and tap Disable anonymous browsing mode.

Source: Fast Company

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