The ultimate guide to Google Maps on Android

Whether you want to drive to a new place in the shortest amount of time, navigate a public transit system that you're still learning or get recommendations for things around you, Google Maps is an all-encompassing app that can do it. It offers real time traffic data, transit directions, a massive directory of places and an impressively large set of satellite imagery all at your fingertips.

An app as huge as this deserves plenty of your time to learn how to use it just right, so we've pulled together all of our information, help and tips on the subject into one place — the ultimate guide to Google Maps.

READ NOW: The ultimate guide to Google Maps

The basics: Getting started with Google Maps

Google Maps on Android

When you're learning something new, you always start with the basics. Unfortunately a lot of the functionality of Google Maps is hidden or not initially obvious, and it takes some poking around to learn. We've got you covered here, with the basics of how to find places in Google Maps, navigate to those places, rate the places that you've been and then save your favorites for later. It's a great primer to learning Google Maps, and it covers the first layer of the app experience.

READ: The basics of Google Maps on Android

Getting around with Google Maps

Google Maps transit directions

The unfathomable amount of data that Google Maps has on roads, traffic, topography, transit systems and buildings makes it an amazing tool for navigation. Whether you're getting around by car, train, bus, subway, bike or your own two feet, Google Maps has the information you need to get from point A to B in the most efficient way possible. With Maps navigation, you'll get great turn-by-turn directions assisted by live traffic data, as well as live transit times with step-by-step directions for finding your way. If you want to know everything about navigating in Google Maps, you'll find it here.

READ: Finding your way with Google Maps on Android

How to find and manage your search and location history

Google Maps location history

When it comes to the information that apps and companies hold about you, knowledge is power. Google Maps naturally knows a lot about where you are, where you've been and even where you're planning to go, and that means it's important to know how to check up on and clear out that data if you so choose. Both the Google Maps app on Android and the Maps website have great tools for managing your search and location history that's stored by Google Maps, and we have two great tutorials showing you how to use it.

Google Earth or Google Maps: What's the difference?

Earth and Maps icons

Considering that you can view an impressive amount of satellite imagery in Google Maps, it's not an uncommon question to wonder what the differences between Google Maps and Google Earth are. In some respects they overlap a bit, but when you look at both side-by-side you can see where each of their strengths lie. Google Maps is great for navigation and finding information on places, while Google Earth provides dramatically better imagery for exploring and seeing everything the world has to offer.

READ: Google Maps and Google Earth: What's the difference?

Quickly share directions in Google Maps

Quickly share directions in Google Maps

With Google Maps on your phone, it's pretty tough to get lost. But that doesn't mean that you can necessarily help someone else find their way if they're having trouble. Maps makes it pretty easy to send directions from the app out to someone else, whether they want step-by-step instructions in a simple text format or prefer that you just send a precise location so that they can navigate on their own. Two great options that can bring people together.

READ: How to share directions in Google Maps on Android

Top tips and tricks for Google Maps

Google Maps in landscape on Android

Once you feel like you've mastered Google Maps, take a look at these great tips and tricks that will round out your knowledge on the app to master levels. Some hard-to-find features are really great, and can make your mobile mapping experience even better. We compiled 10 great tips and tricks for Google Maps, ranging from dropping pins on specific locations to using your voice to control the app at any time. Perhaps the best part about learning these somewhat-hidden features is being able to teach someone else after you know them yourself.

READ: Tips and tricks for using Google Maps on Android

Don't like Maps? Check out these alternative apps

Google Maps alternative apps on Android

There's obviously a lot to like about Google Maps, but it's no secret that it isn't universally loved. For that reason there are tons of great alternative mapping apps on Android, and they each offer something unique that could be the killer feature you're looking for. Whether it's complete offline support, a simpler interface or something really specific, there's a chance you could find it in one of these alternative apps. Give 'em a try, and see which work for you.

READ: App alternatives to Google Maps on Android

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • I wish Google would enable immersive mode on maps. With their insistence with using onscreen buttons Amoleds get burn in because of them and maps is an app you tend to have open for a long time.
  • +1 via AC App on VZW Moto X DE/N7
  • Seriously?
    I have heard it mentioned before, but I haven't had a trace of burn in in 3 years with 2 Samsungs. I thought it would be early versions.
    I have had a Panasonic Plasma TV for 3 years, earlier plasmas were prone to burn in, but mine has been great, and I leave it frozen a lot.
    I know lcd/led tvs and phones don't burn in afaik. Anyway a topic for another day. There's probably a thread somewhere if I wasn't too lazy to find it. :) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Samsung doesn't have virtual buttons Posted via the Android Central App
  • My Nexus One had a very noticeable bar burned in along the top of the screen where the notification bar was, and that was after only about one year.
  • What's a thread?
  • All these advanced features. That I will never use. And Google Maps STILL won't send navigation directions to my car's handsfree bluetooth. It still insists on playing the directions through my phone's tinny speaker that I have no chance of hearing while driving.
  • James I think you may need to go into your bluetooth settings on your phone for that device and check the media audio option.
  • Umm. Mine works fine for years through bluetooth. Use it on paired to my truck and motorcycle even. This sounds more like a you-tooth problem.
  • sound like ID-10T error
  • Hands free Bluetooth for phone calls is different than Bluetooth audio for playing media. If your car doesn't allow you to play music, it won't let you hear from Maps, either. Upgrade your head unit and/or complain to your car's manufacturer, it's not Google's fault they didn't implement Bluetooth audio.
  • Strange, mine go to my stereo via Bluetooth on my Nexus 5. Does on my friend's car, too, with his Nexus 6.
  • First thing to do when something doesn't work. Blame other people.
  • Works for me, too.
  • I've got a short attention span. I tend to hit the comments now after a quick run through, sorry writers. Question: Can I calculate the travelling distance from point B to point C, or not. If I figured it out before, I forgot :) Posted via the Android Central App
  • I miss the old ability to simply have navigation running without having a destination inputted. It was nice for driving around home where I didn't need directions but could see traffic still.
  • You can just have Google maps open and get traffic. No need for navigation. Posted via the Android Central App
  • But if you're not navigating, the screen keeps turning off, which makes it useless. There used to be an option to keep the screen on.
  • Yeah it would be great if they brought that back, especially if you've got the phone plugged in to the car charger. Posted via Android Central App
  • Is multiple destination navigation an option anymore? It used to be a few years ago but it seems that functionality was removed... :-( Posted via the Android Central App
  • Local street names still in swedish. So, Google Maps is useless.
  • Can you save a trip for offline usage? Going to leave for Yellowstone in the next few days. 25 hr trip Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • Nope currently you can only save map data, not directions or POIs. Fully offline Maps is coming though. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Here Drive app supports offline usage. You won't get the traffic updates if you're offline but it will get you where you need to go.
  • Simple Guide: 1. Disable Google Maps. 2. Download another application that doesn't destroy your battery.
  • Or plug in a charger if you're in the car?
  • What mapping app that relies on GPS doesn't eat your battery?
  • How is there not a way to search for a place along your route? Often I'm looking for gas or coffee along the way.
  • Is there a way to tell Google Maps BY DEFAULT that you wish to avoid tolls, so I don't have to set the option every single f-king time?
  • But as good as it is, sometimes it's horribly bad. I tried to use it to go to a restaurant today. Told the app to navigate to the restaurant name and city. And Maps insisted on taking me to that restaurant name in a different city. And I know it heard me correctly, as I could see it print out the correct city name as it listened. Tried it three times, with the same result. Finally had to navigate to the street address, instead of the name.
  • Is google maps force closing constantly on anybody else after the last update. Even when not in use.
  • Haven't had that, no. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No issues here. And even when using it everyday for work there are no issues. Posted via someone's Note 4
  • Maybe I've missed it somewhere, but where is a trip planning option? Often times, it's not as simple driving across the country, or even a county, as simply inputting Point A to Point B. There are often routes I'd prefer to take along the way instead of what is automatically given, and there seems to be no way to alter the route to a user preferred one instead, which would give total time and distance for that route. I guess what I'm wondering is, are there custom routing options, instead of Point A to B? Is there Point A to Point B, going through Point C and D, and ending with Point E? If there is no way to do this, the app is nowhere near as useful as it needs to be! If Google engineers think that travel is a simple 2 variable equation, they are being awfully short sighted on the issue.
  • True, it's a real help, especially when you don't know the area and what public transport to use.
  • can anyone say which handset is it on the bottom left of the picture ???