7 Things You Didn't Know Google Maps Could Do

Maps can help you find smoother bike routes, the weather of your destination, eco-friendly restaurants and more.

google maps
Google

Google Maps is by far the most popular navigation app with millions and millions of active users who love it for its simple-to-use interphase, robust features (such as real-time GPS navigation and integration with public transport schedules, like buses, trains, ferries and subways) and the fact that it works on basically any device you have, be it an iPhone or Android, Mac or PC. And Google added a bunch of new features.

Here's what you need to know.

How to measure distance on Google Maps

It's actually pretty easy to find the exact distance between locations when using Google Maps. If you're using a smartphone or tablet, all you have to do is open the Google Maps app and drop a red pin by tapping and holding a spot anywhere on the map.

Then, look at the bottom of your screen which will now indicate the address of the pin you just dropped. Click on that address and you will see an option labeled "measure distance" just underneath the icon for "Directions."

From here, you can scroll anywhere using the black crosshairs and it will tell you the distance of that location to your red pinned location. You can select the "+" icon to drop multiple points on the map and get the distance between all of them. (

If you're using your computer, you can do the same thing by right-clicking anywhere on Google Maps and choosing "measure distance."

How to navigate indoors with Google Maps

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Google recently introduced a new feature to Maps called Indoor Live View that essentially works the same way as Street View for outdoor locations (like streets, buildings or intersections), but for well-trafficked indoor locations. When inside the Maps app, you can switch to this Indoor Live View and your 2D map will turn into a 3D map and you'll be given augmented reality directions to help you stir towards a specific shop in the mall, the baggage claim of an airport, or a specific bus or train terminal. The idea is that you can better find your way while in those crowded and tricky locations.

Indoor Live View isn't available in every airport, mall or transit station, but Google has rolled out the feature across select cities, such as Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle.

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How to see the weather at your destination in Google Maps

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Google has added two "layers" to Maps that help people better prepare for the location that they are arriving in. First, there's a new weather layer that, after you set a location, you'll be able to quickly see the current and forecasted temperatures and weather conditions in that area; this way, you'll know if it's going to be raining or really hot before you get there and without having to open a separate app.

The other layer does the same thing but for air quality. After you set a location, you'll be able to quickly see how healthy (or unhealthy) the air in that area is. You can use this information to remind yourself to bring a mask or your inhaler, or prevent you from even going to a place if the air quality is so bad.

How to find eco-friendly travel routes in Google Maps

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Google Maps is introducing a feature that will guide you (when driving) along an eco-friendly route, or a route with the lowest amount of carbon emissions, so long as it doesn't affect the ETA of your journey too much. This feature will be on by default (although Google isn't expected to roll it out to all Androids and iPhones until later this year) as its part of Google's big initiative to fight climate change.

However, if you're a speed demon who always wants to get to your location as fast as possible, you'll have to opt out of it.

How to find eco-friendly restaurants in Google Maps

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If you're looking to order from or go out to a restaurant, but you also want to make sure the restaurant is composting, recycling and just proactively being environmentally friendly, Google Maps recently rolled out a feature just for that. When researching a restaurant or shop, you'll now be able to see an attribute for recycling (just click on the business, go to the About section and scroll down to Recycling).

If you're a business, you can add an icon to your profile if you offer recycling (Here's how). You can even specify which things you recycle, such as plastic bags, plastic household products, glass and even electronics. This way you can ensure that nothing you use at that business will end up in a landfill.

How to find the best biking route in Google Maps

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You know how ski mountains have different trail markings (like green circle, blue square or black diamond) depending on difficulty? Well, Google is doing something kind of similar for its biking routes. Specifically, after you type in your route, Maps uses machine learning to find you the smoothest route (it basically just takes into account the flatness or steepness of your route). This way, if you're not a skilled biker or maybe you're transporting something fragile (like groceries), you can choose the path with the least amount of peril.

How to avoid crowds on public transit with Google Maps

google
Google

Google is updating Maps with more crowdedness information, so that commuters using certain public transit can see how crowded a train or bus is at a particular time. The information, which is a mix of historical data based as well as real-time reporting from people using Maps, has been available for roughly 200 cities, but as of July 2021, Google is bringing it over 10,000 locations across 100 countries. To access this crowdedness information, all you have to do is navigate to a certain place using Maps, scroll down to see the Transit Details, and then scroll down to find crowdedness predictions.


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