Google has added features to its mobile maps app, just in time for the holiday season.
A wise guy once said, “It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive!” The combo of GPS and Google Maps on Android smartphones, is a powerful tool, that makes travelling enjoyable if you are both footloose and fancy free.
New features make it very easy to plan a trip and get the best out of both journey and destination. Here is an update on cool tools to fuel a fulfilling vacation at the year-end.
If you’re going where the Internet is slow, mobile data is expensive, or you can’t get online, you can save an area from Google Maps to your phone or tablet and use it when you’re offline. Before you leave, select the area you want and tap “download”. Or select “Offline Areas” in Google Maps menu settings.
You can also save the downloaded maps on the microSD card of your phone. To save cell data and battery life, use “Wi-Fi only” mode. In this mode, when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, Google Maps will only use data from the offline areas that you’ve downloaded. Select “Wi-Fi only” in menu settings. The app also reminds you to update the offline maps once in 30 days.
Real time traffic updates
The only downside to offline maps is you wouldn’t get any live traffic updates along the route. This is really useful to select best route based on real time traffic and the feature is available for all national highways, express ways and 34 cities in India. You need to turn on the Traffic layer in the settings menu to get a colour-coded map — from green for no delays to red for logjam. New updates to this tool also suggest how long you will be held up in a jam and what alternate routes are available. You can switch to voice for this guidance, while driving. And the accent is in English we can understand!
Search along the route
The unexpected can happen on any journey — a medical emergency or running low on fuel. The Search along the route feature helps in making quick decisions like: should I go forward or back to the nearest hospital/fuel bunk/ATM/restaurant/pharmacy/grocery story. The Google Maps app will help locate such features and suggest how much such a stop or deviation will add to your journey time. Coming soon — locating toilets en route.
Find a cab right from the map
We are used to finding cabs from the apps of aggregators like Ola and Uber. Both of them use Google Maps. But you can avoid having to open these apps separately and can access their cabs directly from Maps. When you search for your destination you will find this option along with the existing driving, public transport, or walking options. Currently the services are available from Ola and Uber.
Deviations add spice to your journeys. Google Maps recently added a ‘Multi-stop directions’ feature, which allows one to add multiple destinations to your journey. Open Google Maps and press the right corner menu, and then click “Add stop”. You can also rearrange the order of your stops by holding on the three dot menu to the left of “Add stop” and drag it to the position you want. You can add as many stops as you like and once you’re done, tap “Finished” and your multi-stop routing is complete.
Store your photos
Any journey will mean you have taken photos en route and at the destination. It is sensible to use the Google Photos app, usually pre-loaded on all Android phones to avail of the unlimited storage as long as your still pictures are not more than 16 megapixels and video is not up to 1080p HD. The app is a great help to organise photos by location and date — and is clever in recognizing the subject when you search.
Don’t forget Duo
Being able to switch from a voice call to a video call is a great help on holidays — you can switch from front to back cameras and share the scene in front of you. The Duo video calling app is now up and working in India.
Have a great (connected) holiday!