Google Maps App Tricks for Android, iPhone, iPad

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-08-06
mobile apps

Google Maps App Tricks for Android, iPhone, iPad

Google in July released new versions of their Google Maps apps for Android, iPhone and iPad users, and now the search giant wants to ensure that users are getting all the best built-in features from the updated apps.

To help with the transition, Stephanie Zhan, a Google Maps summer intern, put together a list of six of the best tips in an Aug. 5 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.

"We hope you've had a chance to explore the new Google Maps app for Android, iPhone and iPad," wrote Zhan. "Within the new simple interface, we've added lots of new features and functionalities, so I wanted to share some tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of your new Google Maps app."

Among Zhan's tips is an alternate way to zoom in on map images, beyond just pinching the screen with your fingers to zoom in. The updated apps also allow users to double-tap on a map, hold a finger to the screen, and then scroll up and down to zoom in and out, she wrote.

Using offline maps is also a bit different than in the past with the apps, wrote Zhan. "To access a map offline, open the map of where you're headed. Then, tap the search box and scroll up past the search suggestions. Select 'Make this map area available offline.'" So far, this capability is only for Android users, but it is coming soon for iPhone and iPad users.

To easily search for a local business or something you're craving, such as pizza, wrote Zhan, Android or iPhone users can select a search result and then swipe up and down the information sheet to find more information about the place they are perusing. "Or, swipe left and right to see more places. If you're on your tablet, just tap on one of your options to learn more about the place."

Users can also get up-to-the-minute recommendations for hotels, restaurants and things to do by tapping the search bar and then choosing "explore," she wrote. Users can then "browse suggestions by choosing a category: Eat, Drink, Shop, Play, or Sleep" to find what they are seeking.

To share your location using Street View, users can press and hold on the map to drop a pin onto the desired location. Users can then learn more information about the place where they are located, as well as get directions, check out Street View, and save or share the location by text or email, wrote Zhan.

Users who wish to leave their own reviews and ratings for businesses where they have done business can do so by searching for a business or restaurant, pulling up its info sheet and scrolling down to the "Rate and Review" section, according to Zhan. "Tap the number of stars you think the restaurant deserves, write an optional review, and then tap 'Publish.' Just remember, you need to be signed into Google Maps and have a Google+ account to write a review."

Google Maps App Tricks for Android, iPhone, iPad

Users should note that some of the new Maps features are not available in all countries or on all devices. Additional tips for using the new and improved Google Maps apps for Android, iPhone and iPad are available on the Maps help page.

The new Google Maps app for iPhones and iPads was launched in mid-July, just six days after the company unveiled its latest Maps app for Android.

The updated iOS Maps app, Version 2.0, includes enhanced search and navigation capabilities, as well as Google's first dedicated iPad mapping experience. The optimized iPad integration brings all the features of Google Maps, including Street View, to a larger screen. The enhanced navigation features mean that iPhone users can access Google Maps to find out what is happening real time amid the traffic they are traveling in. The live updates provide users with live incident reports on road closures, construction, accidents, and other delays and incidents.

The new Android Maps app got a new "explore" option that allows users to visually browse and discover new places without typing. Instead, users can tap the search box, and they'll see pop-up "cards" that display nearby places to eat, drink, sleep and shop.

Another new feature is the availability of mobile offers and discounts from national brands like Macy's, Michael's and Toys "R" Us that are presented and labeled on the user's map screen, wrote Graf.  Some of the new features are not available in all countries.

Interestingly, Google's unveiling of the Android version of the app on July 10 didn't happen without controversy. Within hours of releasing the new Android Maps app—which had been stripped of its offline maps function—the company rushed an update that restored the missing function after it heard a barrage of criticism from angry users of the feature.

That initial feedback caused Google to change its course, a company spokesman told eWEEK. "After seeing some of the comments and reactions of users around the world who were missing the offline functionality, our engineering team worked around the clock to develop an easier way to cache a map for offline use," the spokesman stated. 

In May, Google unveiled innovative updates for Google Maps at its annual Google I/O Developers Conference, including a more interactive look and feel. The new Google Maps takes a novel approach to how people use online and mobile maps, gaining the ability to instantly respond to user inputs, making recommendations on places to visit and highlighting information that matters most during a map inquiry. The next generation of the Maps service essentially will create a map that is unique to each user and his or her needs, based on the input from the user.

In March, Google unveiled its first big update of its young Google Maps for iPhone app, adding several new features to the stand-alone mapping app that Google introduced in December 2012 to work with Apple's latest iOS 6 mobile operating system. The December 2012 app debut followed Apple's announcement in May 2012 that it would drop the native Google Maps app that had been part of iOS since the arrival of the first iPhones so that the company could introduce its own maps app.

The arrival of the Apple Maps app in iOS 6, however, was met with many complaints and criticisms from users, who bashed its lack of accuracy and geographic details. The public relations problem was so bad at the time that Apple CEO Tim Cook even offered a public apology for the problems and vowed that they would eventually be resolved.

Rocket Fuel