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9 Hidden Google Map Tricks You Never Knew About

Fifteen looks pretty good on Google Maps. In honor of its birthday, the app added a host of new features to make getting from A to Z (and everywhere in between) easier than ever before.

Google Maps is older and wiser

In celebration of its 15thyear helping us get from A to Z without any hiccups, Google Maps unveiled a host of changes that will make this popular app smarter and sleeker than before. The update makes navigation even simpler with the addition of two new tabs at the bottom of the screen. Now you can explore, go, save, contribute, and update all from the home screen. It’s more than just exploring and choosing the best route. Check out these hidden Google Map tricks you never knew about.

get a taxi estimateCourtesy Juliana LaBianca/

Price shop for ride shares

Everyone knows how annoying it is to type your destination into each of your ridesharing apps to see which is cheapest. Fortunately, Google Maps can help you view all the options in one place. Simply type in your destination and tap the icon of the person hailing a cab. Google Maps will show you each ridesharing service in the area, as well as the cost of each travel option (for example, with Uber you’ll see UberPool, UberX, UberXL, etc.). You’ll still have to go to the ridesharing service’s app to request your ride. Find out the Uber tricks every passenger should know.

location sharingCourtesy Juliana LaBianca/

Share your location

Heading out on a weekend trip and want to make sure your otherwise anxious mom can follow along? Google Maps now allows you to share your location. You can even customize the length of time this info is available so she doesn’t snoop too hard. Tap on the location-sharing button in the upper right corner and then follow the prompts to “select people.” From here you can share your live location, route, and ETA with any or all your contacts. You can also share across third-party apps like Facebook Messenger, Line, WhatsApp, plus more. Find out 14 creepy things Google knows about you.

find a safe bike pathCourtesy Juliana LaBianca/

Find a safe bike path

Biking in an unfamiliar place can be intimidating—especially when you don’t know what types of paths to expect. Google Maps has got your back. Enter your destination in the search box, tap on “directions” and then hit the transit tab. From there, you’ll see routes that feature cycling options plus directions. For more detail, click “destinations” in the Go icon, enter your destination and click the biking icon on the top of the screen. Along with your route, you can also get some intel on the terrain. FYI: These are the U.S. bike trails with the best views.

know what to expect from trafficCourtesy Juliana LaBianca/

Know what to expect from traffic

Headed to a congested area for a reservation? It can be hard to know when to leave. Get a feel for what traffic is typically like with traffic data from Google. Enter your destination and tap ‘Directions.’ Click the type of transportation you are using on the top of the map such as car or bus and scroll down for traffic intel. You’ll be able to see where and when trouble is likely to occur. You can even set an alarm to make sure you leave on time to avoid gridlock. Bad commutes can be more than just aggravating.

get the scoop on parkingCourtesy Juliana LaBianca/

Get the scoop on parking

Even after you get to your destination, parking can still be a major obstacle. Fortunately, Google Maps can tell you what to expect. Enter your destination and click the car icon for driving directions. In many cities, you’ll see a ‘P’ icon at the bottom of the map. That stands for parking. Next to the P, you’ll see limited, medium, and easy. These designations can help you plan our how far ahead you’d like to leave. Got a parking ticket? Find out what can happen if you don’t pay it.

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Remember where you parked

Now that you’ve found a place to park, you might want a helping hand in remembering where that precious spot is. Android users can tap the blue dot and then tap “Save your parking” to add your parking location to the map. There will be a label on the map showing where you parked your car. Tap on that label to open up your parking card, where you can add relevant details and even schedule a reminder alert 15 minutes before your meter expires. The Apple iOS experience is similar. Tap on the blue dot and then tap on “Set as parking location” to add your parking spot before the tapping on the parking label on the map to open up your parking card. Here are 17 hidden iPhone hacks you never knew about.

findy anything anywhereCourtesy Juliana LaBianca/

Find anything, anywhere

You probably already know that you can type “coffee shop near me” into Google Maps to get a list of coffee shops in your area. But did you know you can search destinations even if you’re a thousand miles away? For example, search “cozy restaurants near the Bronx Zoo,” or “beer halls near the White House.” Give it a try. Just remember, with Google’s “My Activity” you (or anyone with access to your Google account) can view all of your online activity unless you tap on your user name icon in the right corner and turn in incognito mode in the drop-down menu. Find out exactly how “private” private browsing mode is.

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View a map when you don’t have Wi-Fi

Some of the most stressful times for navigation occur when you don’t have access to an Internet connection. You know what we mean—when you’re desperately searching for the Spanish Steps in Italy but don’t have an international data plan. Make sure you always have a map by downloading one in advance (that means while you still have Wi-Fi). Search for your city (say Rome) and bring up a map. Tap the name of the city again to see more options. Click “Download.” You’ll be able to see the map no matter what type of reception you have. When you are connected, make sure you never do these 14 things on public WiFi.

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Find a wheelchair accessible route

It can be frustrating to set out on a trip and not know if the entire route is accessible. Make sure you take the best route by using Google Maps’ accessibility feature. Enter your destination, tap ‘Directions,’ and select the public transportation icon. Click ‘Options’ and tap the wheelchair-accessible box. Next up, learn the 25 fun Google tricks you need to try ASAP.

Denise Mann, MS
Denise Mann is a freelance health writer whose articles regularly appear in Reader’s Digest. She has received numerous awards, including the Arthritis Foundation's Northeast Region Prize for Online Journalism; the Excellence in Women's Health Research Journalism Award; the Journalistic Achievement Award from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; National Newsmaker of the Year by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the Gold Award for Best Service Journalism from the Magazine Association of the Southeast; a Bronze Award from The American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors; and an honorable mention in the International Osteoporosis Foundation Journalism Awards. Mann received a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her undergraduate degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She lives in New York with her husband David; sons Teddy and Evan; and their miniature schnauzer, Perri Winkle Blu, and rescue chihuahua-pitbull, Thomas.