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Google Maps: Everything you need to know!

Google Maps is a powerful tool that's used by over 1 billion people, and over the years the app has become more efficient at suggesting routes, offering detailed options for public transit, nearby points of interest, and so much more.

Google serves up directions for driving, walking, biking, or public transit. When you select the driving option, you can ask Google to suggest a route that avoids tolls, highways, or ferries. Similarly for public transit, you can choose your preferred mode of transportation.

Its sheer scale means that there are tons of features that aren't immediately visible, and that's where this guide comes in handy. If you're just getting started with Google Maps or are looking to discover new features the service has to offer, read on.

Save your home and work addresses

How to save your home and work addresses

Setting an address for your home and work should be the first thing you do in Google Maps, as it gives you the ability to quickly navigate to your home or office from your current location. Choosing a custom address also lets you use voice commands for navigation such as "Take me home".

How to save your home and work addresses in Google Maps

Get driving and walking directions

Get driving and walking directions in Google Maps

If you're driving a car, exploring a new locale by walking around, cycling to work, or using public transit, Google Maps has you covered. You'll be able to set your preferred mode of transport and select a route from all the available options with ease, with Google showing real-time travel info along with suggested shortcuts to avoid traffic.

How to get driving and walking directions in Google Maps

See public transit schedules

How to use Google Maps for public transit

Google Maps is a valuable resource if you rely on public transit for your daily commute. The service gives you a detailed list of transit options for your journey —whether it's by bus, train, or ferry — and it offers the ability to set a departure time and see what facilities are available at that time.

How to use Google Maps for public transit

Take maps offline

How to use Google Maps offline

If you're traveling abroad or heading to a location with limited internet connectivity, a good option is to save that particular area offline so you can get driving directions and view points of interest. Saved areas expire in 30 days, after which you'll have to update them to continue navigating them offline.

How to use Google Maps offline

Add multiple stops to your route

How to add multiple stops in Google Maps

The ability to add multiple stops to your route is easily one of the best features to come to Google Maps. You can set up to nine stops along your route, and Google gives you the overall trip time as well as any delays along your selected course.

How to add multiple stops in Google Maps

Share your current location

How to share your location in Google Maps

Google removed location sharing from Google+ and reintroduced it to Maps back in March, giving you an easy way to share your location with friends and family. You can broadcast your whereabouts for a set amount of time, select approved contacts to share your location with, or just create and share a link with your real-time location information.

How to share your location in Google Maps

Book an Uber

How to book an Uber in Google Maps

Google Maps lets you book an Uber — along with Lyft or Ola, based on your location — without ever leaving the app. You'll be able to see tariff breakdowns for various tiers, as well as estimated wait times and payment options. You don't even need to have Uber installed on your phone to use the service — you have the option to sign in to the service from Maps.

How to book an Uber in Google Maps

Use indoor maps

How to use indoor maps in Google Maps

Indoor maps take the guesswork out of finding your favorite retail store inside a mall or the exhibit you're looking for in a museum. The service is available in over 25 countries and lets you easily navigate within malls, museums, libraries, or sports venues.

How to use indoor maps in Google Maps

Create and share lists

How to create and share lists in Google Maps

The ability to create lists is the newest feature addition to Google Maps, and it brings a social element to the navigation service. With lists, you can easily create and share lists of your favorite restaurants, make easy-to-follow lists of places to visit when traveling to a new city, or follow a curated list of places. You can set up lists that are public (viewable by all), private, or those that can be accessed by a unique URL.

How to create and share lists in Google Maps

View your location history

How to view your location history in Google Maps

Google Maps has a Timeline feature that lets you browse the places you've visited, categorized by date. The location data is augmented by any photos you've taken at a particular place, as well as travel time and mode of transport. It's a nifty feature if you're interested in looking at your previous travel data, but if you're worried about your privacy (Google tracks everything), you can easily turn it off.

How to view your location history in Google Maps

Use two-wheeler mode to find the fastest routes

Google Maps motorcycle mode

Motorcycle mode is a feature designed specifically for the Indian market. The country is the world's largest two-wheeler market, and as such Google is looking to provide a better experience to those on bikes and scooters by offering more optimized directions.

The goal is to suggest routes that are traditionally inaccessible by cars, which will not only cut down on congestion but also provide a shorter commute time for those on motorcycles. To this effect, Google is actively soliciting recommendations from the Indian community in addition to mapping out back alleys.

Two-wheeler mode offers voice prompts and turn-by-turn directions — just like the regular driving mode — and for now the feature is limited to the Indian market.

How do you use Maps?

What Maps feature do you use the most? Is there a particular feature you'd like added to the service? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Updated December 2017 with details on two-wheeler mode.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

8 Comments
  • I love Google maps and it's by far the best BUT there's one feature I wish they'd steal from Apple Maps and that's when Navigating with Apple Maps and you keep the screen locked the map will reappear almost full screen when you are nearing your next turning and give you your next instruction/direction etc then close the screen again afterwards. Google Maps only give you the notification bar with written details at the top of the screen. In my opinion the Apple way is much clearer with much better detail and information and still keeps your screen off in-between to save battery or for less distraction.
  • How does Uber work? Can you pick pick-up time or once you click book a ride or whatever the car comes asap?
  • I'll be using it for the first time this weekend
  • It's more like "hailing a ride". You book the ride and then it will show you in realtime how far the ride is. If you're indoors, you can walk outside when you see that it's nearing your location. However, you'll have to know which ride you are "waiting for" from the information displayed in the app (ex: SUV, Black, Lic plate etc.) Usually Uber drivers can see a lost passenger waiting for a ride and know that it's you before you even make eye contact. :P
  • Well I hope all estimated times are correct. I will be booking maybe 15 min before the departure time. Usually apps let you pick a time when you need a taxi
  • Loved Google Maps. But then my GPS stopped working on my Google Pixel. I'm not the only one. What'd be great if they fixed the GPS on their flagship phone.
  • Maybe it's me but I find it hard to exclude toll roads in navigation. Wish you can set the option once so you don't have to set again for future trips. Sticking to Waze.
  • I wish they would add the posted speed. That's one of the few features I miss from my Lumia 950. Apple now offers that feature since a recent update, too. Google is behind the curve.