Google Maps

The bar is back, but there aren't any settings to control it

The recent Google Maps redesign was great, but were you missing the measurement scale bar? Well it wasn't just you, and Google has apparently responded to some criticism and put the scale bar for measuring distances back in with this latest app update.

There aren't any settings to show or hide the bar, and it seems to only appear when you move the map or re-zoom to a new distance, then disappears quite quickly. We might have preferred if Google just gave an option to keep the bar on or off permanently, but beggars can't be choosers, we suppose.

Go grab the update from the Play Store link above. It seems to be pushing out widely right now.

 

Reader comments

Google Maps update brings back the scale bar

108 Comments

No it is not. You can't access navigation without setting a destination.

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You can still access navigation, although it is no longer it's own app. Here's how to put a Navigation icon on your desktop:

1) open the app drawer and go to widgets. Drag the "activity" widget onto your desktop. This will open a picker list (it will take a moment to populate, so be patient).
2) Find and tap "Maps" and several options will appear beneath it. Find "Navigation". There will probably be two. Choose the one that says "Destination Activity" underneath.
3) Done. Tap the icon and hit "map" to run navigation without a destination, just like before :)

Good this helps.

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This does nothing. Just brings you to maps, and there is already an icon for that. I want navigation WITHOUT a destination.

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Yep. And the replacement moving map view has you moving at an angle because it uses the compass instead of GPS to determine direction. At least in my car dock that's what it does.

For the folk who don't understand what we're talking about: install maps 6 and select navigation then click on "map" presto! Navigation view without destination. Like every other fracking GPS on the planet. Except Google nav 7. With 7 you get a circle and triangle that does not point the right way add you drive. Unless you're phone is pointing the exact same direction as your car, the compass is calibrated right and you're lucky enough to be on a wide road because it no longer snaps to the nearest road.

For car users the new maps is less functional than the old.

The icon is irrelevant. You CAN'T enter navigation without setting a DESTINATION. I don't always want a destination, sometimes I just wanted the navigation screen.

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Yeah, I liked the view navigation maps feature while I was on road trips. I don't want to set a destination, just want the navigation to remain active which gives me a better location history.

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Yeah me too. I used this all the time. I really don't see the logic in stripping this feature out. Google is doing a lot of this lately. Eg - the way they crippled talk with that hangouts monstrosity.

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Yeah, I have no choice but to use Talk, because I can't even locate most of my Talk contacts in Hangouts because they're in a completely haphazard and random order, and it's rather impossible to see who's available and who's not available, especially in bright sun or at a glance. If I wanted to SMS the people, I would have sent a text. It's a freaking IM client in my opinion. The only advantage is Hangouts allows you to send pictures, but they send at about 640 x 480 resolution which is just useless in my opinion. Why did they even bother? I'm hoping whomever decided these reduced thought and functionality applications for aesthetic purposes only gets the axe really soon.

Here's my take on it. If all these people that are complaining want a true mapping application, let them purchase one (I hear ArcGIS is really good for this sort of thing).

ArcGIS is for creating maps and is very difficult for most people to use. I use Arc10 all the time and I would never use such a program for navigation.

I guess that makes me right on cue. The new Maps sucks. Also Hangouts sucks. Why would Google revamp two of its core products and actually take out existing chunks of functionality and also degrade the user experience and downgrade the effectiveness of these apps main uses?

If certain features like My Maps is missing, then why shouldn't people complain. I love My Maps and I wish it was still a feature.

NO. I for one won't stop complaining.

Simply because it is so bad that it needs to be addressed.

-No dedicated Nav icon (if you have it, it is something to do with your ROM.. the update removed it for the majority of users.

-Cannot navigate without destination set.

-Poor color scheme (Night mode nav roads almost impossible to see... bright white labels everywhere, though. Primary road arteries used to show as yellow... quick at a glance to know major roads... now they are white like any other except interstates.

-Labels on streets has degraded... I did side by side comparison, and its shocking how often on new maps it won't show ANY labels on screen, while the old one showed them. (These labels are extremely useful to geo-reference one's self... ie a side-seat navigator letting you know something like "turn Right on the street after Maple... or to know I'm at the intersection 3rd and Elm."

And you know how text re-positions itself on roads as you move... useful, right? Well I've seen several move smoothly like a train driving across my screen and right off the edge... bizarre... thought it was a glitch till I drove down that road again and it did the same thing!

-Latitude is gone. (G+ locations is getting there, but not the same... and really belongs in Maps as well.

-Measure tool gone (useful to quick measure walking trail length, etc.)

-My Maps is gone (they say its coming back... but WHY release new maps without it?) I took the Google Maps course a few months back (and work in mapping industry, by the way.) And using this was a primary feature... I even showed workmates how to use it for some surveying roadtrips they had coming up... and it worked AWESOMELY, and very efficient for our Android users! Until the new maps were released... they had to rollback the update to keep using it.

-POI icons and labels. Why do I need to know every doctor's office I drive past... along with Vet, Church, tanning salon, etc...? Wouldn't be quite so bad, but I've already reported at least 5 labels that are incorrectly placed (some off by miles, like the Bed Bath and Beyond in a farm field.) Also the text for some of these takes up quite a bit of screen space. I don't mind seeing Gas stations, hospitals, police, etc... but we really should have some control over this.

I could go on and on here... and I hate to be all negative because there ARE some really good things about the new maps - it's just they ruined or stripped so much functionality out of it that it is hard to keep positive.

I'm forcing myself to use the new one, just to provide support to friends, family or workmates who are frustrated by it. But when I go on vacation or need to actually DO SOMETHING USEFUL with maps, I uninstall update first.

I haven't seen it mentioned but it seems the Save As Contact function once you've found a place is gone, too. It's a logical and useful feature; can't figure why they'd leave it out.

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I also noticed that in v7.1.1, there is no way to clear your last search and get back to a "bare" map (the "x" doesn't do it and there's no more option to clear the map). Not liking that much.

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The scale bar is worthless. I don't understand why people want or need it. Straight distances are pretty much worthless. If I need to know where something is I just get directions for whatever transportation form I want and I get a distance measurement that useful.

I agree.
Id gladly trade the scale for my stared places.

Till those return, I'm not updating maps. I use it that much.

Starred places are there. Open maps, click on the profile icon to the right of the search bar. Saved places is there.

Some are, but most aren't.
Its like if you didn't search for something on this particular device you won't find your stared places.

I plan routes for road trips on my desktop computer and save them to my maps and stared places.
But they are missing from the new version of android maps.

Both routes and all my places are on the old maps.

Wow!!! I've been bitching about this since day 1, never found it. It's much more hidden than it should be, but at least it's there.

Not ALL your stared places are there.

Don't believe me? Log into your computer and look at maps.
You will find a lot more there than on your phone.

Scale bars are a pretty standard feature for maps... if you know that 1" = 2 miles... you can do quick estimate on distance. Again, though, it would be nice if someone like me could turn it on and if you didn't find it useful you wouldn't have to see it. We'd both be happy!

It should stay up and I wish it provided more info like total distances in view (up and across). Why so small?

Maps also has a distance preference which is set to kilometers for me, so why is it also showing imperial measurements?

Prefer they bring back the xoom buttons. Really miss those buttons. Still refuse to upgrade my gnexus hate the new maps.

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Yeah I'm thinking about refreshing my ROM that has the older version in it just to go back to the old one. Same thing I had to do with hangouts.

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Exactly, I really miss those zoom buttons; it made it much easier (and safer) to zoom while driving. If they don't bring them back soon, I'll probably have to find a way to load the previous version of Maps as well...

You guys do know that you can double tap and hold and swipe up to zoom in and down to zoom out all with one hand..

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NO I DID NOT! WOO HOO! No seriously this is the best tip I've ever received...

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zoom button?? what are you, old school? double tap or pinch to zoom.
zoom button is for maps on web which is not touch. oh my god people are just stupid

Then use the double tap, hold, and swipe gesture. Problem solved.

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It is *NOT* easy to double tap zoom while driving. It was an option, it seems logical to have the option in the AndriOSd version as well. I can see how not having the zoom buttons is right for some people, perhaps even the people that don't like the zoom buttons, but not for all people, probably the people who like the zoom buttons.

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Agree 100%.

Simple solution: put the option in there to display zoom buttons. Those who DON'T want it, and want to feel superior don't need to see it. Those who DO want it, can have it.

Problem solved... by options. I thought that was what made Android so great, in general - the options. Funny how the trend with maps seems to be swinging toward "use it the way I tell you to and stop complaining."

THIS! Man, it really sucks to have to pinch on a phones screen in a car dock...

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If you have a Nexus, just go to the app in manage apps, and uninstall the update.

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Super, good job Google. Meanwhile since updating to the new maps my phone always shows me facing to the west no matter what direction I'm going. And good god what a pita to bring up navigation. From maps.

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Agree. I've gone back to the old version and won't upgrade until My Maps is back. It is my most used feature.

I'd rather have the zoom buttons back. When I'm driving with my phone in a windshield mount and I need to zoom out a little (which I do every morning on the way to work) it's a whole lot easier to tap a button than it is to pinch and zoom.

You don't have to use to fingers. Double tap but on the last tap hold your finger on the screen. The you swipe up or down to zoom in and out. Very easy.

Posted via Android Central App

Best idea, don't update! I kept the version that includes the measure tool on my phone and updated the one on my tablet.

The updated Maps is useless to me without being able to check distances outside of directions and nav!

Here's a tip on Navigation. If you are running Nova, or any other 3rd party launcher, just set a shortcut to Navigation. Just choose Maps in activity, then Navigation. It cuts out a few steps.

People comparing about the zoom buttons just don't know how to use the new features. I find the new one finger zoom pretty easy and only takes a couple times to get use to it. A cool thing I noticed today why using directions (I like using directions better then navigation myself) is that it shows the multiple routs is grey, to change routs just tap on the grey one you want.

Posted via Android Central App

NOw if only gestures were as intuitive as "see buttons on screen with an obvious function and tap it". The problem with the one-finger double-tap+swipe zoom -- as awesome as it is -- is that nobody knows about it until they read these threads, forums, or some obscure Google Support document somewhere explaining all the features and all the gestures.

Gestures may be "intuitive" but that's once you know them.

Compare to, say, Dolphin Browser, which actually shows an overlay the first time you run it or the first time you enable gestures, to show you WHAT gestures are available...

A teaching overlay would be great but the main problem is people just don't like change. I read about the swipe feature when the update came out by it kind of went over my head and I was using pinch to zoom and missed the buttons myself. But it stuck in the back of my head somewhere and started to figure it out, once I did it was easy to use.

Lately I seem to be getting much more out of Google Now and Maps and I am loving every minute of it. No way I could every see myself leaving Android just because of these two great features that come with it!

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Google Earth has the teaching overlay/walkthrough, I don't see why they can't have added it to Maps if they're going to remove/change the way of doing things.

Most people aren't going to visit tech blogs to learn how to use a map they were using just fine.

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i can't even access my "saved maps" on the mobile. i wanted to create a itinerary and then open it up in the mobile. not even accessing the itinerary link trough gmail and opening it with maps, nothing appears.

Maybe I've just missed it, but I don't see an easy/fast way to exit the map app when navigating. Only pressing back over and over until I exit. What am I missing?

I don't like the new maps. It looks pretty... Kinda but over all its a confusing mess!!

HTC ONE ~ Android Central App

I miss the zoom in and out + and - buttons. Because I have to use 2 hands to pinch zoom, and it's harder to do that while you're driving

You don't have to use two hands, with one finger double tap and hold dinner to the screen and up and down swipes will zoom in and out. Pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

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Although the movement is easy it's still a challenge to do so while driving. I usually either over zoom, under zoom, or accidentally shift the map. It's much easier to tap the zoom buttons.

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>"The recent Google Maps redesign was great, "

I don't know what Google Maps redesign YOU have seen, but that certainly doesn't apply to the updates *I* have seen, which pretty much SUCK.

It seems slower and/or less stable, far less usable, was missing the scale (and this still doesn't really fix that), is missing the menu button, has no way to edit or even view cached map areas, and many other flaws.

Agreed.

I keep seeing articles like this that clearly ignore the massive flaws that the new maps has introduced.

It wasn't perfect before, don't get me wrong... but they broke just about every cool feature I used to show off about Android Maps. Now maps is a cluttered, unintuitve mess. Makes me think about pulling my Garmin back out of the drawer (even though its maps are like 3 years out of date.)

I'm now noticing you don't need to press on the little white button to open the slide-out menu. You can now swipe from the left edge of the screen like many of Google's apps now.

G+ is disabled. I *only* use it on my desktop, not on mobile. From my experience, it sucks a lot of battery/causes wakelock.

Still using map version 6. Never liked 7.

I still hate the new maps.
Choosing an alternate route is a bitch because now you have to go back several times (3 times i think)
The easy 1 tap to show route preview is gone.
refuses to interact w/ the physical menu button
map size for offline caching is much much smaller (which is super frustrating)

I'm pretty unhappy w/ maps in general :(

I'm not impressed with the new Google maps. The new UI has good intentions but poor execution. For example, search is at the very top of the screen and the pull out menu is on the left side of the screen. For the vast majority of people this is exactly opposite of where their dominant fingers will be. At the very least put search at the bottom of the screen and make the pull out drawer activate when a capacitive menu button is pressed. So back to the pull out menu, this now places Traffic (of all things) and all the other cool stuff at the very top left portion of the screen, again, at pretty much the farthest point from where a thumb would be. I get that Google is trying to create a congruent interface experience but this is the wrong direction IMO. Finally, they took out some cool features or buried them, for example offline maps are an easter egg and the zoom buttons are gone (yes I know about the double-tap trick).

Looking at comments, forums, even the Google Maps app page reviews we can see there are A LOT of things many of us users do not like about the recent update. Why can't this and other tech sites see it?

Because according to the conventional tech site wisdom the update is allegedly "fresh", "clean", "modern", " ... a breath of fresh air". The same applies to Hangouts and the recent Google Play website update as well. Both are practically unusable now ...

Probably because they never use the app in a car or on a road trip. Then they install it, mistake lack of features for a clean design then post their fawning review.

My wife and I used latitude all the time to show our kids where the other was when one of us was on the way back from a business trip. Now that's gone. We're supposed to use g+ somehow? LOL g+, what a joke that ghost town is. Who the hell uses Google+?

I miss how the old maps traffic was a lot more accurate and would reroute me. After new maps was installed I was driving on I95 and a section had been shut down for about 5 hours. Maps showed it was smooth sailing straight through.

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I want the zoom buttons back. Having to use two hands to zoom is not always the best.

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So every one says double tap hold swipe to zoom. That sucks more like a pia

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LOL. The missing scale bar is the least of the new Maps app's issues.

The designer of this new version is simply clueless about what is needed in an interface that will be used while in a vehicle. He probably bicycles to work, and never even attempted to use it in a car.

The new Maps app simply is harder to use, requires two-hands for actions when you should have at least one on the wheel, and requires you to take you eyes off the road for longer periods of time. Yes, you can still do most of what you can do in the old version, but the new interface makes using the app in it's natural environment more dangerous.

Tiny buttons, two finger, and two handed actions are exactly the wrong design. If Google is serous about offering Navigation, they should hire an interface designer or two from Garmin.

It sucks every bit as much on the desktop too which I use constantly for my driver's maps at work. The one page map and second page directions are gone and it wants to print everything on one single page which means it's so tiny, it's useless. I keep checking the Classic Maps option and every time I open it or put a new address in an already open window, it wants to open in the "New and Improved Version" instead.

That said, I just got two Galaxy 4's yesterday and the first thing I did was uncheck the auto update on the Google Maps it wanted to install. I'll keep the old version till they fix this. I'd also backed up the old .apk from my old phone so I'd have it just in case...

I haven't complained yet, so let me add to the pile.. new maps is just as unintuitive as the old maps (no big deal), but seems to be missing several subtle conveniences the old one had that I realize now how useful the old maps really was.

Bring back layers so I can get to MY Places!! I'm going to Philly today and I have a custom map for Cheesesteak places and now I have to rely on memory and look them up individually!!! Not cool Google!!

Don't even get me started...
- it no longer announces street names "Turn right on Becker Avenue"
- it no longer announces distances "continue straight for 4 miles"
- it no longer includes descending distance warnings "in two miles, turn right on Becker Avenue" "in a half mile turn right on Becker Avenue" (you just get one lousy warning)
- what about freeway exit identification "take exit 127-b"
But, since we're all just lousy beggars...

I can think of a dozen more things that were botched in this latest update that are a much bigger deal than the scale bar issue

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All the reasons noted here is why I run 6.x. The apk is out there. 7 is a joke.

I wonder if they ran afoul of patents and decided to just nerf the experience? It's almost as bad as Bing on Windows phone now.

I love the new overall look and design but still miss two options from the old maps :

1.When choosing a destination that "Tap on screen start-end point"

and

2.On screen Ruler

the new version of MAPS gained nice looks but lost features/usability. Anyway, I'm with Ian on this. I side loaded version 6.x and un-installed 7.

Heaven only knows why AC sees the need to try to hype up this turd, but for the rest of you out there the answer continues to be: don't update. Maps 6.14.4 continues to work perfectly well, and the APK is not difficult to find if you've already upgraded and regret it (and can't revert via Play for some reason).

What I miss most is the alternate route menu that showed multiple routes on the map. You then selected the 'tab' with an alternate route to highlight and ultimately select that route. The text-only presentation of alternate routes and travel times is more difficult to interpret at a glance.

Google maps should incorporate "Land Calculator" app features. One feature allows you to draw on map from point a to b to find distance between both points. This is perfect for hikers to get distance for non-marked land.

My big gripe is the disappearing scale bar. Today I allowed another gmaps update. The scale bar seems to stay on screen longer than it did 2 weeks ago - at that time it seemed to be gone in the blink of an eye. But the scale bar should be there always. What kind if dunderhead thinks it's better to hide it? If I'm in an unfamiliar town - the time I'm most likely to use gmaps - I want to have a quick notion of how far it is to my destination. What if I'm not in navigation mode? Then I don't get any directions or distances in a list and a scale bar is essential!

I just can't believe it - Google is an engineering company - how could they take away that tiny scale bar? Probably some marketing dodo insisted on it and the engineers are contemplating slitting their wrists.