Google Maps is more than just driving directions. 5 clever tricks to start using today

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Wherever you are headed, Google Maps may give you a snapshot of what you will discover whenever you get there, from actual-time crowd numbers to menus, costs and speak to info.

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I seldom use Google Maps to really get instructions, however I open the app virtually on daily basis for different causes that may not be so apparent. Truth is, Google Maps is helpful for lots more than just displaying you ways to get from Point A to Point B. Beneath all these Christmas-colored visitors patterns and excessive-res satellite tv for pc photos hides a robust search software that provides crowdsourced actual-time knowledge on eating places, retail shops, skilled workplaces, public parks and virtually anyplace else you’d need to go.

Some of Google Maps’ current updates embody adding a coronavirus information layer, paying for parking, improved images and sidewalk maps, and improved location sharing. Turn-by-flip instructions are so final decade, comparatively talking. If you are already conversant in this app as a navigation software, you are solely a faucet, press or swipe away from these and more Google Maps superpowers.

To unleash the hidden potential of the Google Maps app in your telephone or pill, check out the 5 methods I take advantage of Google Maps virtually on daily basis that don’t have anything to do with getting instructions.

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See how lengthy the road is in all places from Walmart to the DMV


In the Google Maps app, actual-time info on traces, crowds and wait occasions is in crimson, however you possibly can faucet every other hour of day to see what you possibly can most likely count on then.

Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

Before I stroll out the door, whether or not I’m heading to Walmart, the grocery retailer, the physician’s workplace or to renew my driver’s license, I virtually at all times test Google Maps to see precisely how busy I can count on my vacation spot to be. Here’s how one can search for that info too.

In the Google Maps app, faucet on the enterprise or location you need to go to and scroll down till you see a graph labeled Popular occasions. Tap the day of the week should you’re planning a visit for later that week.

Tap on the crimson column to see present foot-visitors knowledge, or one of many blue columns to get a abstract of how busy you possibly can count on it to be at one other time: Not busy, Not too busy, A little bit busy or As busy because it will get.

Next, underneath the heading Plan your go to, you will discover normal info like peak wait occasions (“up to 5 min from 6 a.m. — 12 a.m.”) and size of common go to (“People typically spend 20 min here”). Now you realize whether or not you will be out and in in a flash or should you want to pack a great e book or just plan your go to for an additional day when wait occasions aren’t as lengthy.

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Want to wait till the road on the cafe is shorter? Look underneath “Popular times” to see when the crowds often die down.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Check out menus, photographs and buyer evaluations

In addition to its navigation instruments, Google Maps is additionally a full-blown crowdsourced assessment app, very like Yelp or TripAdvisor, so you may get a good suggestion of what kinds of choices your vacation spot presents, in addition to value, presentation and whether or not you will want to take out a mortgage to afford it.

This characteristic is as helpful for restaurant pickup and supply because it is for previewing menu choices and costs — not to point out getting a great have a look at the dishes. It might make or break your determination to strive someplace new. For those that belief the knowledge of crowds, it additionally reveals the eating places’ 5-star common in addition to particular person evaluations to weigh in your determination.

On most restaurant listings you will see a navigation bar on the high with Overview, Menu, Reviews and Photos listed as choices (you might have to facet-scroll to see all of them). Tap any of these or just scroll down. The hyperlink labeled Menu is typically listed just beneath working hours, however preserve scrolling till you see the heading Popular dishes to see photographs of meals. Keep going previous Popular occasions till virtually the very backside to discover the restaurant’s 5-star common and consumer evaluations.


Get a really feel for the kind of delicacies a restaurant presents by searching menus, photographs and evaluations within the Google Maps app.

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Book a desk or place an order for carryout or supply

Once you’ve got gotten a sneak peek at all of your restaurant choices, more often than not you do not even have to go away the Google Maps app to make a reservation. If you’d reasonably eat at house, you too can often order carryout or supply from inside the app.

If the restaurant you’ve got selected makes use of a reserving service like OpenTable, you will see a tab beneath the Menu choice that claims both Find a desk or Reserve a desk. You do not even have to log in to the reserving service to make the reservation (though should you gather bonus factors or in any other case actively use the service you might have considered trying to anyway).

For carryout or supply, search for an choice labeled Place an order. A popup gives you an inventory of accessible providers, like DoorDash or Postmates, however you’ll have to sign up to full your order, so when you’ve got an account with any of them you will most likely need to select that one.

Hey, Google Assistant, how’d you get on my iPhone?

I spend most of my digital life within the famously walled backyard of the Apple ecosystem, with one obvious exception: I take advantage of a Google Home ($99 at Walmart) with Google Assistant to management my smart home.

Google Assistant would not come baked into iOS the way in which Apple’s less capable voice assistant Siri does, however a setting in Google Maps helps you to shove Siri to the facet so you possibly can have at all times-on entry to Google Assistant whereas navigating.

To set the Google Maps app in your iPhone to pay attention for “OK, Google” whereas navigating, open the Google Maps app and faucet on the menu icon (the three stacked horizontal traces to the left of the search bar), then faucet Settings. At the highest of the web page, underneath the heading Getting Around, faucet Navigation, then scroll to the choice labeled Access your Assistant with “OK Google” and switch the toggle on.


Google Home gadgets like this Nest Hub include Google Assistant baked in, however on iPhones you will have to use a Google app like Google Maps to summon the digital sidekick.

Dale Smith/CNET

Admittedly, this workaround is a bit wonky — you will have to set Google Maps to navigate to a selected vacation spot for the “OK, Google” voice command to work, and you’ll’t summon Siri with “Hey, Siri” whereas this characteristic is turned on. But till Android can woo me away from my iPhone, it is higher than nothing.

Find working hours, telephone numbers, ZIP codes and more

Whenever I want to know when a retailer or enterprise opens or closes, or if I want to name the place and I haven’t got the quantity, or on the uncommon event once I want the ZIP code for a enterprise for which the road identify and quantity are all I do know off the highest of my head (say, for a job utility), I’m going straight to Google Maps to get these solutions and more.

Here’s the place to shortly and simply discover fundamental information about places listed in Google Maps:

Operating hours: Businesses’ hours of operation are displayed instantly beneath the deal with. You can faucet the down arrow beside today’s closing time to see hours for different days of the week. Most listings are up to date with any particular vacation hours, that are highlighted in a crimson font.


Find the ZIP code for nearly any enterprise within the United States by trying to find its identify or avenue deal with on Google Maps.

Angela Lang/CNET

Phone numbers: Beneath hours of operation in most listings you will discover the telephone quantity. To name it with out leaving Google Maps, faucet the quantity, then faucet the pop-up that shows the immediate to Call adopted by the quantity.

Website: If the enterprise has an internet site, will probably be listed beneath the telephone quantity. Tap it to open the web site in a Google Chrome-powered tab inside the Google Maps app.

ZIP code: This one’s much less widespread, however when I’ve wanted it, Google Maps has saved me tons of time. Either enter the road identify and quantity or the enterprise identify and faucet search. At the highest of the itemizing beside the road deal with, you will now see the ZIP code.

For more Google ideas and tricks, take a look at these six Google Maps tricks you probably don’t know about yet, these seven hidden Gmail features and how to use Google Maps’ revamped bike routes.


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