Google Maps has some surprising tricks up its sleeve that don’t involve navigation

Wherever you are headed, Google Maps can provide you a snapshot of what you will discover once you get there, from real-time crowd numbers to menus, costs and call data.


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I take advantage of Google Maps virtually daily, even though I hardly ever truly use it to get instructions. It’s not apparent at first look, however Google Maps can do much more than simply navigate you from Point A to Point B. Beneath all these high-res satellite tv for pc photographs and color-coded routes hides a strong search software, chock-full of crowdsourced real-time knowledge on scores of retail shops, eating places, skilled workplaces and public parks — and virtually anyplace else you wish to go.

Turn-by-turn instructions are so final decade in contrast with a few of Google Maps’ more moderen updates, which embody AI-powered language translation and incognito mode to prevent leaving a paper trail. If you are already aware of Google Maps as a navigation software, next-level powers like these are solely a faucet, press or swipe away.

To unleash the hidden energy of the Google Maps app in your phone or pill, check out the highest 4 methods I take advantage of Google Maps daily that don’t have anything to do with getting instructions.

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See how lengthy the road is all over the place from Walmart to the DMV

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In the Google Maps app, real-time data on traces, crowds and wait occasions is in pink, however you possibly can faucet another hour of day to see what you possibly can most likely count on then.


Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

Before I stroll out the door, whether or not I’m heading to Walmart, the grocery retailer, the physician’s workplace or to resume my driver’s license, I virtually at all times test Google Maps to see precisely how busy I can count on my vacation spot to be. Here’s how one can search for that data too.

In the Google Maps app, faucet on the enterprise or location you wish to go to and scroll down till you see a graph labeled Popular occasions. Tap the day of the week if you happen to’re planning a visit for later that week.

Tap on the pink column to see present foot-traffic knowledge, or one of many blue columns to get a abstract of how busy you possibly can count on it to be at one other time: Not busy, Not too busy, Just a little busy or As busy because it will get.

Next, underneath the heading labeled Plan your go to, you will discover basic data like peak wait occasions (“up to 5 min from 6 a.m — 12 a.m”) and size of common go to (“People typically spend 20 min here”). Now you will know whether or not you will be out and in in a flash or if it’s worthwhile to pack a great e-book, or plan your go to for an additional day, when wait occasions are lengthy.

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Want to attend till a restaurant has room earlier than heading out? Look underneath “Popular times” to see when the crowds die down.


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Check out menus, photographs and buyer opinions

In addition to its navigation instruments, Google Maps can also be a full-blown crowdsourced evaluation app, very like Yelp or TripAdvisor, so you will get a good suggestion of what kinds of choices your vacation spot affords, in addition to value, presentation and whether or not you will must take out a mortgage to afford it.

This function is very helpful in case your vacation spot is a restaurant, resort or bar, the place previewing menu choices and costs — to not point out getting a great take a look at the dishes and decor — would possibly make or break your resolution to strive someplace new. For those that belief the knowledge of crowds, it additionally exhibits the eating places’ five-star common in addition to particular person opinions to weigh in your resolution.

On most restaurant listings you will see a navigation bar on the prime with Overview, Menu, Reviews and Photos listed as choices. Tap any of these or simply scroll down. The hyperlink labeled Menu is usually listed slightly below working hours, however maintain scrolling till you see the heading Popular dishes to see photographs of meals. Keep going previous Popular occasions till virtually the very backside to search out the restaurant’s five-star common and person opinions.

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Get a really feel for the kind of delicacies a restaurant affords by shopping menus, photographs and opinions on the Google Maps app.


James Martin/CNET

Hey, Google Assistant, how’d you get on my iPhone?

I spend most of my digital life within the famously walled backyard of the Apple ecosystem, with one evident exception: I take advantage of Google Home ($79 at Walmart), powered by Google Assistant, to regulate my smart home

Google Assistant would not come baked into iOS the way in which Apple’s far much less succesful assistant Siri does, however a setting in Google Maps helps you to shove Siri to the facet so you possibly can have always-on entry to Google Assistant whereas navigating. 

To set the Google Maps app in your iPhone to hear for “OK, Google” whereas navigating, open the Google Maps app and faucet on the menu icon (the three stacked horizontal traces to the left of the search bar), then faucet Settings. At the highest of the web page, underneath the heading Getting Around, faucet Navigation, then scroll to the choice labeled Access your Assistant with “OK Google” and switch the toggle on.

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Google Home units like this Nest Hub include Google Assistant baked in, however on iPhones it’s a must to use a Google app like Google Maps to summon the digital sidekick.


Dale Smith/CNET

Admittedly, this workaround is somewhat wonky — it’s a must to set Google Maps to navigate to a selected vacation spot for the “OK, Google” voice command to work, and you’ll’t summon Siri with “Hey, Siri” whereas this function is turned on. But it is nonetheless higher, for my part, than the considered switching to an Android phone (preventing phrases for some, I do know).

Find working hours, phone numbers, ZIP codes and extra

Whenever I must know when a retailer or workplace opens or closes, or if I must name the place and I haven’t got the quantity, or the uncommon event after I want the ZIP code for a enterprise for which the road title and quantity are all I do know off the highest of my head (say, for a job software), I’m going straight to Google Maps to get these solutions and extra. 

Here’s the place to shortly and simply discover primary information about places listed in Google Maps:

Operating hours: Businesses’ hours of operation are displayed instantly beneath the handle. You can faucet the down arrow beside immediately’s closing time to see hours for different days of the week. Most listings are up to date with any particular vacation hours, that are highlighted in a pink font.

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Find the ZIP code for nearly any enterprise within the United States by looking for its title or road handle on Google Maps.


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Phone numbers: Beneath hours of operation in most listings you will discover the phone quantity. To name it with out leaving Google Maps, faucet the quantity, then faucet the pop-up that shows the immediate to Call adopted by the quantity.

Website: If the enterprise has an internet site, it is going to be listed beneath the phone quantity. Tap it to open the web site in a Google Chrome-powered tab inside the Google Maps app.

ZIP code: This one’s much less widespread, however when I’ve wanted it, Google Maps has saved me tons of time. Either enter the road title and quantity or the enterprise title and faucet search. At the highest of the itemizing apart from the road handle, you will now see the ZIP code.

Of course, Google Maps can also be chock-full of options that assist with what the app is most clearly designed to do — present you find out how to get the place you are going. Start with these six Google Maps tricks you probably don’t know about yet. If you will be utilizing Google Maps to navigate on a giant street journey, these tips will help make your journey as smooth as possible. If you occur upon any accidents, pace traps or different slowdowns when you’re out and about, you can now report up to seven different types of road incidents instantly from the Google Maps app.

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