Google, since its inception has always worked towards making life easier and convenient with the help of technology. So it is no wonder that technology has re-defined the way we travel (even in our daily lives).
Ever since Google launched its Google Maps, it was an instant hit with locals as well as travelers. Since then, there has been a lot of work done to improve the user experience and it is an ongoing process.
During my recent road trip with Google India, I learnt so many amazing features of Google maps, which I didn’t even know existed!
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10 Awesome Google Maps Features you DIDN’T know Existed
Google Maps teamed up with a few local transport departments of various cities to provide real time bus and train tracking as well. Real time bus tracking facility is currently present only in the city of Kolkata, India where the app is almost accurate without any lag.
Apart from Kolkata, 16 other cities in India have a static bus schedule available that enables people to plan their route and travel accordingly. For travelers looking to plan their railway journey will also find this app quite useful as Indian Railway maps are also panned out on the Google Maps app. The app also displays real time location of trains albeit with a few seconds lag (it is being worked up on).
An essential feature has been added to the ever helpful Google Maps app and that is the ability to add pit-stops along the route. Instead of being able to navigate from one point to another, the app allows the user to add up to 9 pit-stops along the way.
This feature comes in handy especially when traversing through unknown locations. With the help of this feature, stops can be pre-determined. This particular feature helped us in locating favorable pit stops for food and facilities during our road trip from Mumbai to Lonavala.
Google Maps also allows you to book cabs directly from the app. This is due to the fact that most cab aggregators use Google Maps as the interface for geo-location services.
This would mean that you no longer have to switch apps to book a cab and track its location. App based cab service such as Uber and Ola (in India) along with a few local taxis can be booked conveniently without switching apps to compare prices and availability.
Speaking from experience, this feature comes in handy during peak hours when surge pricing comes into play.
Location sharing & tracking
With the unique feature of being able to share real-time location, makes life much safer and stress free. The Google Maps app enables user to share their current location with a single or multiple contacts across different platforms with an allocated time limit.
The time limit to share real time location tracking is set at 45 minutes which can be altered to suit the needs of the user. This is immensely helpful when travelling in a group and somebody turns out to be a deserter. We used this feature during our road trip from Mumbai to Shilimb to track fellow travelers in other cars.
A lot of work has been done by Google to ensure a seamless and unique user experience while using the Google Maps app. One of the best feature of this app; it works offline as well (except for live traffic updates).
Detours, better routes, off-roads, etc are all possible these days with this amazing app even on offline mode. The only requisite is to download the map before going offline. The downloaded file can take up quite some space on your device but it is still better than dishing out money for ‘mobile data’ which is quite substantial.
The app enables you to download maps not just of a locality, city or region but also the whole country depending on the memory space available on your device. This feature turned out to be quite useful during our recent road trip from Mumbai to Lonavala where mobile network was pretty erratic.
To enhance and satisfy user experience, Google has gone a step further to make sure that you always find the best route possible while traversing through your city or a place you’re visiting.
The app notifies the user with major events while highlighting the areas that might be affected due to the same. If there’s a major event which might hamper the traffic situation, Google Maps app updates itself and marks the route or even hides it at times.
This also means that you can find new routes with the help of Google Maps.
Being a Google Maps user, you may be surprised to know that the app also works with voice command thanks to Google Assistant. If you have any questions regarding a place or region, you can put it up through the app and “local guides” will answer them instantly.
This is another Google initiative in enhancing their database by collecting the same through users. These days a Google search reveals a lot about an establishment, area, city, or even country. All you need to do is just ask a question (literally)!
A great feature of Google Maps is that it allows the user to create their own list of places. If you would like to share your experiences of being in a place that is “off the beaten path” you can do so anytime.
The “lists” feature will help the user mark a place on the map and also share the same with friends through social channels or even privately. It is a great feature to help travelers visit some unique places which are often not mentioned in travel guides and other journals. This also means that travelers who are looking for off-beat places can ask for recommendations and locals can offer their expertise.
Have you ever wondered where I was on this date last month? If you do, then here’s some good news for you – Google Maps has an in-built timeline which stores your travel history.
It can also act like a travel organizer if there’s a need to look up an old travel date quickly. This feature is quite nifty and comes in handy quite a lot – check it for yourself.
However, if as a user you would not like a particular entry to stick, you always have an option of removing it. The timeline stamps are also stored for a period of 30 days, following which they get removed from the timeline.
Google allows anybody to become a contributor and earn points on the basis of their engagement. A contributor to Google Maps is known as a ‘Local Guide’ who is an expert in a particular city or region of a country.
These local guides are the first points of contact whenever there is a question floated out by any user. Recommendations of local guides also go a long way in updating Google database with impending accuracy. Any review, photograph, FAQs, etc when updated by contributors, results in reward point granted by Google.
Other Must Have Google Apps for Travelers
The Google Translate app is exactly as the name suggests – a translation app. It translates one language to another. Simple!
There’s nothing new to it! Oh, but there is – it is the only translation app that can literally translate by all three modes – read (more like see), write & speak.
Confused?? Don’t be, the Google translate app works amazingly fast and has the ability to translate most of the languages spoken in the world.
So either the user can type (write), speak (talk to the app in clear and concise voice) & here comes the best part – read (align the text with the camera) and voila, you get an instant translation.
This quirky little app can actually be a life saver in various situations. For instance – if you’re travelling to a place where the predominant language is one that you are not accustomed to, the app can be a wonderful tool for communicating with locals.
The only point that you need to remember is that language is always evolving, so you will have to keep updating your language packs for seamless efficiency.
The Google Trips app can be a boon for travelers as it acts like a personal travel organizer and updates itself according to changes in itinerary. If you use the same email to book your flights, hotels, car rentals, etc., then log into the app with the same email and you will never have to worry about losing travel documents or missing travel plans ever again (unless your device conks off).
This wonderful app not only saves all your travel documents in one place for easy access but it also keeps notifying if there’s a travel plan coming up. You can always tweak it as per your preference and the app performs exceptionally well.
Allo has been on the market for some time now and it is essentially a messaging app. Well to be honest there are enough messaging apps in the virtual world; however what makes Allo stand apart from all the other messaging apps is its usability.
Since, it supports all Google products without any sort of lag or bug; it is extremely easy to use. You can either use this app to send messages to a single receiver or multiple receivers or create a group board. It enables the user to share messages, images, GIFs, videos, documents, location and it also has an option of Google Assistant. The unique appeal to this app is that it features incognito mode to keep conversations private.
So these are the must have Google apps for travelers. Go get them at the lay store and enjoy hassle free travels.
Disclaimer – I was a guest of Google India for the Google Maps road trip to learn these nifty features.