Navigation apps are super useful to have on your smartphone and Google Maps is widely considered the cream of the crop. But while the app is used mainly to provide orientation, there are some surprising features tucked away in Google Maps that you might not know about.
So we rounded up a selection of some of the best hidden Google Maps tools and functions you should definitely try out next time you’re out and about:
Measure distance between points
Want to know the exact distance between point A and point B on the map? Nothing easier. Google Maps lets you measure the distance. Just touch and hold anywhere on the map. You’ll immediately see a red pin appear.
At the bottom, tap the name of the place. On the place’s page, scroll down and choose Measure distance. Then move the map, so the black circle is on the next point you want to add. At the bottom, you’ll see total distance on miles or kilometers.
Looking to save up a few bucks? Avoid paying a costly bridge tax, by setting Google Maps to show you only the free routes. Tap on Route Options and toggle Avoid Tolls on. But keep in mind that this decision might add a lot of miles/km to your travel itinerary.
See inside places
Google Maps comes with the neat option of allowing you to take a sneak peek inside famous buildings such as art museums, cultural landmarks, and even airports and their surroundings.
When you search for a location, swipe up to get more info on it. In some cases, you will notice the 360-degree icon (under Photos). Tap on it, so you can view the interior/exterior and walk in the space too.
Remember where you parked
Parked at the mall and you can’t remember where you left your car? Google Maps can help you with that too. Once you arrive at your destination, tap on the little blue dot that is your location. Choose the Set as parking location option from the menu that pops up. If you’re using your Android smartphone, you can even add a parking note with additional info (like the sector in which you parked).
Zoom with one finger
The majority of smartphone users zoom in on their device using the traditional pinching gesture. But in Google Maps there’s an easier way to do it and it requires only one finger – just double tap the screen and swipe up to zoom out or swipe down to zoom in. Just make sure you keep your finger on the display after the second tap.
Just landed in a new place and you’d fancy a quick dinner? Or you want to get to an ATM as soon as possible? Use Google Maps’ Explore feature to see what’s nearby including restaurants, cafes, gas stations, pharmacies, groceries, and ATMs.
All you have to do is tap on the Explore button at the bottom of the display to get started.
Get transit info
Rail data and public transport information is available on Google Maps in large cities. You can access the Public Transport tap to get buses, trains and trams schedules. It shows real-time departures and reveals how many interchanges there will be.
For each journey, the app will compare alternative routes via different transport modes, including walking and driving, so you can choose the quickest or easiest way to get to your destination.
Request a ride
Need to be somewhere and you need someone to drive you there? Enter your destination, tap on directions and choose the little figure attempting to hail a taxi.
Then you’ll be presented with a list of options (Uber, Lyft) along with the estimated time and fare. Note that you can’t order a ride directly from the Maps app. Tapping on the option will automatically direct you to the Uber/Lyft app.