Five useful tips for using Google maps

September 11, 2013 

With the ever increasing amount of businesses going online and yet still welcoming customers through the front door, the map has become one of the more important tools.

Online maps, like Google's Maps, allow users to find businesses and get around more easily. Map apps are also an important feature of nearly every smart device. Arguably one of the most popular maps app is Google's Maps, which was recently revamped with many new features being introduced. However, uses used to the older version may not be fully aware of how to get the most out of this latest update.

Here are five tips to help you get more out of the new version of Google Maps on your smart device, (Android, iPhone and iPad).

1. Set home and work addresses

Many people use Maps for directions, not surprisingly, and in order to improve this, Google now allows you to set your home and work address. When you set these addresses, you can not only get better directions, but your device will also show more accurate traffic levels and could even give you alternate routes -- all without you asking.

To set your home and work address:

• Open the Maps app on your device.

• Tap the Maps icon to the left of the Search bar and select Settings from the menu that slides in from the left.

• Ensure that you are logged

into your Google account. If you are, it should show your account name below Switch account.

• Tap Edit home or work, followed by which address you would like to edit.

• Enter the address and hit Done.

• Do the same for the other address. If your business or workplace has a Google Place page, enter the name and Google should find it.

When you set a home and work address, with the Google Now app, you should notice directions and suggested routes to and from work/home automatically pop up.

2. A different way to zoom

The vast majority of users navigate maps with one hand, with the other holding the device. While most people use the pinch to zoom method, there is actually another way to zoom: Double tap the screen where you want to zoom and slide your finger up to zoom in, or down to zoom out. You can also move the orientation of the map by placing and holding one finger in the center of the screen and moving another in a circular motion to rotate the map.

3. Offline maps

Not every device will have a constant data connection. In previous version of Maps, you could cache or download an area of a map and make it available offline. With the new version, this option is nowhere to be found, at first glance at least. If you zoom to an area you would like to be available offline, tap on the Search bar, hit the microphone and say "Ok, Maps." The map will download to your device if this is possible. To access the map while offline, open the Maps app and navigate to the area where it was cached. It should be available then without being online. Note: Google has said that this feature is currently only available for Android devices, but will be available soon for iPad and iPhone.

4. Access Street View

Street View is an incredibly useful tool, especially if you are going to a new location and aren't too sure where to park, get off the bus or what the building looks like. To access Street View simply press and hold on the map at the location and a red pin should appear, with a white bar in the bottom that has the address. Slide the address up to reveal more information, including a picture from Street View. Tap on the picture to go into Street View.

5. Save a location for later

If you visit a good restaurant, or want to quickly find a business on a map again, Google allows you to star locations. When you star a location, it will show up on all versions of Map (as long as you are logged into the same Google account). When you tap on this location, you can quickly get directions and even contact information.

To star a location, such as a business, find where it is on the map and tap on the business name. A card should pop up with information, including the address, website, contact info and three buttons at the top: Save, Share, Route. Tap Save and Maps will star the location on your map.

David Spire, president and CEO of United Systems, holds multiple professional certifications, including Microsoft's Small Business Specialist. He can be reached at 941.721.6423 or by e-mail at david.spire@uscomputergroup.com.

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