Google Maps for Android has so many features that it would take a series of reviews to uncover them all, but I recently discovered some of the new features recently added so thought I would share them with you. Some of the features will not appeal to many – the navigation feature is one as it needs to use your cellular data (maybe not though read on to find out how) which many folks prefer to not use what with the high cost of mobile data plans these days (at least here in Oz where we have the highest mobile broadband cost in the world). Also, off-line navigation apps have become so good now – take the excellent MetroView app that I reviewed a while back. It’s still my absolute favourite navigation app.
Here’s my list of the best features in Maps.
I’m still working and have to visit clients in my contacts list – which of course are all in my Google Contacts area in the business Gmail account. I find that using Maps to quickly pull up their address with a small Google StreetView image underneath very handy. It means I can navigate straight to their home (using MetroView if I need help getting there – I usually don’t – but when I get there having the image of their house is great as I can immediately recognise when I am out front. Maps shows me all my contacts in an area with their names and homes with street numbers marked which is brilliant.
If we are out for dinner, I can fire up Maps and search for say, ‘Indian restaurant’ and all the restaurants within a 20km or so range will be shown on the map. I then tap, ‘show list’ underneath and all of them appear with ratings, opening hours and street address. Tap one of them and I get a Google StreetView image of the place with handy buttons below including a website link if they have one and a call icon which I can tap to phone them to make a booking – again, simple and brilliant. Depending on the business there may also be interior photos of the place so you can tell them you’d like to book that nice table for two by the window and recent reviews of the place – which you must take with a grain of salt as I’m sure that competing businesses write the terrible reviews and the business owners write all the glowing ones!
Oh and one more feature that really negates my first reference to not using the app for navigation – offline areas. Maps has now been enhanced with this great feature. Tap the ‘hamburger’ menu (the three horizontal bars in the search bar at the top) and select ‘Offline areas’. You will get a suggested map area called ‘Home’ which is centred on your current location but you can tap ‘Add’ (the plus sign in a blue circle) and using your finger move the map around inside the square – you can also ‘pinch zoom’ in and out to get more or less of the area – then tap ‘Download’. Note the estimated size of the map and how much room you have on your device, although in my case the size required to store the downloaded maps was a lot smaller than what Maps said it would be. Now you can use Maps to navigate using the offline area map you have downloaded – again just too good. There are other features within the navigation part that I’ll let you discover for yourselves but that’s it for now. Enjoy using Maps – I was simply blown away by how good it is now compared to earlier versions.
Price : Free
Size : varies with device
Needs : varies with device