If you find yourself on the road quite a lot, you no doubt use Google Maps fairly regularly. But are you making the most of all of its impressive features?
77% of smartphone owners regularly use navigation apps, with the Google Maps app taking the top spot as the most popular with 67% of users opting for it.
Why? Because not only is it arguably the most reliable, but it offers an abundance of features that make travelling so seamless and easy. Below, we detail how to use Google Maps to its full potential, providing our top 10 tips all motorists should use when navigating.
1) What do the colours mean on your drive time?
Google Maps displays how long you have left on your journey at the bottom of the screen. You may notice that time changing from red to green and orange.
For those of you wondering what this means, it is essentially a colour-coded indication of how good (or bad) traffic is.
- Green = no traffic delays on your route.
- Orange = middle-level traffic on your route.
- Red = heavy traffic delays causing speed of traffic to really slow down.
Pretty simple, right?
2) In-app Google shortcuts
There are multiple ways in which you can quickly check the flow of traffic in your area or commute, including:
- Seeing traffic for your commute – After setting up your work and home address on Google Maps, you can access your commute’s traffic at one press of a button. Select “Commute” at the bottom of your screen within the app and it will show you the up-to-date traffic, best route and travel time.
- Creating a driving shortcut – To do this, select the Menu in the top left, followed by Settings, Navigation Settings and Add Driving shortcut. This will then display a shortcut on your device’s home screen, enabling you to jump-start a journey quickly, displaying ETAs on your regular journeys instantly.
3) Control Spotify while in Google Maps
We’ve all been there when a passenger is navigating and they miss a turning due to skipping a song or finding a new playlist… But it doesn’t have to happen!
Make sure you have Spotify and Google Maps installed on your device before head to your Google Maps Settings. Here, you’ll need to choose Navigation followed by ‘Music playback controls’ (iPhone/iPad) or ‘Show media playback controls’ (Android).
Select Spotify and accept the terms and voila! Spotify will now be available to access and control via the main navigation screen.
4) Adding multiple stops
Ever get tired of navigating to one place then starting a whole new map journey to your next destination? You don’t have to!
If you know you’re going to multiple places in a single drive, which you should be doing in order to save the planet(!), you should add all of your stops in one go before setting off.
To add multiple stops in Google Maps, plan your journey the usual way by adding your destination and starting point, but then select the three vertical dots on the right-hand side and press ‘Add stop’.
You’ll then get a new ETA based on two stops. You can add even more stops to your journey after this point, too. Make sure you create a route that cuts as much time out as possible by organising your stops conveniently by location.
5) Avoid tolls
There’s nothing worse than frantically looking around your car for coins having inadvertently and unexpectedly stumbled across a poll on your route. This is why Google Maps allows you to avoid them entirely.
A Google Maps secret that not many actually know about is that you can alter your settings to avoid:
- Toll roads
To ensure you have this box checked, when setting up your route prior to embarking on your drive, click the three horizontal dots followed by ‘Route options’. This will then present the opportunity to avoid any (or all) of the above.
6) Download routes offline
On long car journeys, particularly outside of the city, you are likely to drive through places with low mobile phone coverage. This is when you need to consider downloading your route offline.
Downloading offline routes on Google Maps negates the need for 3g or 4g signal. We’ve all been there when your Google Maps starts to slow down as a result of low signal and it ends up lagging way behind your car’s position. The best way to avoid the risk of getting lost is to navigate offline.
To download a map, connect to the internet before your trip and search for your destination (which can even be a whole city!), tap the name of it and click ‘Download’.
For more information on using Google Maps offline, check out their guide.
7) Change how often and how loudly you hear the automated voice
Sometimes, Google Maps audio navigation instructions can get a little tiresome, which is why you are given the option to turn it off or down.
For some drivers, the voice helps them to ensure they stay on track, but for others, it can be a nuisance. If you’re part of the latter group, select the megaphone on the right-hand side in your navigation and mute the voice.
Alternatively, if you enjoy the voice but find it distractingly loud to the point it’s affecting your driving podcast or music, turn it down by following these instructions:
- Head to your Google Maps Settings.
- Click Navigation Settings.
- Select your preferred Guidance volume. You have the choice of “Softer”, “Normal” or “Louder” (for those hard of hearing).
You can also alter the settings here to ensure the navigation guidance does not continue saying instructions while you are on the phone to someone – that can get very annoying!
8) Access and remove your Google Maps History
Did you know that Google tracks your location and navigations if your device…
- Is signed into your Google account
- Has Location History on
- Has Location Reporting on?
With Location History on, Google will give you personalised maps and recommendations based on destinations and places you’ve frequented. If, however, you would prefer Google did not track your location history, follow the instructions provided in their guide.
To delete your current Location History, follow these instructions.
9) Remember your parking spot
Google Maps can remember where you’ve parked your car so that you never have to spend another minute scratching your head wondering where you left it.
Back in 2017, Google Maps added a new feature that enables users to “save your parking” by tapping the blue dot that shows your current location, followed by “save your parking”.
To find your vehicle again, open the Google Maps app and select “Parking location”.
For more parking tips, check out our Secure Parking Guide.
10) Indoor Maps
Google has created “a more convenient and enjoyable visitor experience at no cost” on Maps. Indoor Google Maps allows you to explore inside venues, stadiums and points of interest – from airports to shopping centres, sports grounds to arenas.
To test this out, try searching for Wembley Stadium or the Louvre Pyramid.