Make the world your oyster with Google Maps' hidden tools

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Google Maps

It's been almost ten years since Google released Street View, letting you digitally stroll down almost any road in the country. And although the advances that followed haven't had as much press, they're just as useful for getting you from A to B.

Here's a rundown of the most indispensable features of the Google Maps app for your smartphone.


Save maps so you can view them offline

If you don't want to use up data or you're going somewhere that won't have a good internet connection, save the maps you'll need beforehand. Each map uses about 100MB, so make sure you connect to Wi-Fi to download them.

  1. In the app, tap the hamburger button ☰ in the the top-left corner.
  2. Tap 'Offline areas'.
  3. Tap the + button or select 'Custom area'.
  4. Drag and pinch the map to choose the area, then tap 'Download'.

Avoid tolls and add multiple stops to your journey

To make your journey more efficient and cut down costs, search for your destination and tap the action overflow button (three dots) in the top-right corner.

Select 'Route options' and check each box to avoid tolls, motorways and ferries on your journey.

Select 'Add stop' and search for extra destinations to add to your journey. You can rearrange the order of your stops to find the fastest routes.

Earn extra online storage by writing reviews

You can help make Google Maps even more effective by reviewing the places you visit, answering questions and adding new locations and photos. When you do you'll be rewarded with points.

Earn enough points and you can get:
  • Up to 1TB (1000GB) of free Google Drive storage, freeing up space on your smartphone by letting you save photos and files online.
  • Early access to new Google products and features.
  • Invitations to events, workshops and Google Hangouts about new technology and making the most of their products.

To get involved, drop a pin by holding your finger down or tap on a location, then tap the bottom of the screen to see more information and add your contributions.

Search en-route and use voice commands

When you're following directions to reach a destination, you can find things like cafés, cashpoints and shops along the way. Just press the magnifying glass button to choose from popular searches or write something specific.

The hands-free alternative is to tap the microphone button and say things like:
  • How is traffic ahead?
  • What's my next turn?
  • Show alternate routes

Use finger gestures to do more than just zoom

Pinching the screen to zoom isn't the only way to interact with your map. You can also zoom by double-tapping and sliding your finger up or down, which lets you keep one hand free.

You can also:
  • Twist two fingers on your screen to rotate the map.
  • Tap the compass icon to orient the map so it faces north.
  • Swipe up or down with two fingers to switch between bird's-eye view and flyover view (with 3D buildings).

Why not make use of Google Maps' hidden tools the next time you go on a journey? You'll be more in control than ever before.