I may sound repetitive but by now, you must know that we just love road trips and detours.
So, last week when I received an email to go on a road trip from Bangalore to Mysore with Google Maps India there was no way I was going to turn down the invite. I was super excited to be a part of the trip but was a little skeptical as we had no clue about the activities or itinerary in advance, even I had no idea where we were supposed to stay at Mysore. The only information I had was that it would be a two-day trip and all the details would be shared during the trip. Though Sam was a bit apprehensive but to me, the trip sounded fun and interesting.
All of us were asked to meet at ITC Gardenia at 9:00 AM for breakfast which was followed by a presentation by the product manager of Google Maps India – Sanket Gupta.
During the presentation, Sanket shared with us all the interesting and new features that have been added to the Google Maps App which has made it more intuitive. To be honest, I did not know half of the features even existed. Each one of us was handed the new Google Pixel that we had to use during the road trip.
Post the presentation we were told that we would have multiple pit-stops on the way to Mysore and the clues for each pit-stop would be provided by the Google Team over Allo (the brand new Google Assistant and instant messaging app). We had to use Google Assistant to find the answers and then use Google Maps to drive to the place. I liked the entire concept of the trip, it was fun and unique.
Our first clue was to find the Five faced Ganesha Temple and all of us were quick to google the answer using the Google Assistant Allo. The answer was Panchmukhi Ganesha Temple on the way to Mysore. So, a new stop was added to the set route and we reached the temple following the shortest route suggested by Google Maps.
The second task was to find a restaurant, on our way to Mysore for lunch and with the help of SEARCH option we landed at Rasta Cafe for lunch. After devouring a hearty meal, we were all set for the road trip to Mysore.
On our way to Mysore, our third stop was an art and craft shop which was not listed on Google Maps. The shop was on the way to Srirangpatna from Chanapatna. We learned how we could add missing places or correct wrongly tagged places so that it can help other Google Maps users. If you want to know how to do that, then keep on reading.
Before calling it a day, we did stop by Empire Restaurant for a quick refreshment break and post that headed straight to the hotel – Radisson Blu Mysore.
The next day was a bit relaxing. We started around 11:30 AM and visited Mysore Palace and St. Philomena Church before heading back home.
During the entire trip, we got an opportunity to use most of the features of Google maps – Search, Adding pit stops, downloading offline maps, add missing places, checking images/360 degree videos of the places, reviewing and sharing feedback about the places & restaurants and last but not the least on how to be a local guide and contribute to make Google Maps better.
Google maps is more than finding path from A to B
In this post, let me share all the knowledge that I was able to grasp during the two-day trip which might help you in making use of Google Maps in the best possible way. Sharing some of the coolest features of Google Maps to help you plan your travel better.
– Features of Google Maps App –
Search Along Routes
SEARCH. I think that’s the most widely used feature of Google Maps that we all rely on a daily basis or say minute basis whenever we are in need of some information.
But are you aware that apart from searching distance/route direction from place A to B, you can search a lot more stuff like petrol stations, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and the most important ATMs too?
Imagine you are running low on fuel and do not want to reset your Google Maps setup. Just click on the search icon within Google Maps and enter petrol station, Google Maps will point out all the petrol stations along the route. Cool, isn’t it?
Multi-Way Point Directions
Now you can also add pit stops along your route. Imagine being able to add multiple places to your route while traveling and getting a heads up of the travel time and traffic on the go. You just have to select the three dots after you have added the first place in your route. You will get a drop down with an option to Add Stop, just enter the destination details and this would be added to your route. You don’t have to go through the hassle of resetting the route again. You can also rearrange the sequence of your pit stops and there is no limit.
Live Traffic Alerts
Woes of traffic are an everyday issue 🙁 and we all can thank Google maps for coming to the rescue. Not just it gives you a heads up about the traffic congestion on your regular routes or route you intend to take but also suggests alternate routes that you can take to avoid traffic delays.
Many a time we have used suggested alternate routes during our road trips and have been able to avoid traffic jams and save time.
Note: Red – Heavy Traffic, Green – No traffic, Amber – Manageable Traffic
Downloading Offline Maps
If you are nodding your head vigorously of being stranded in the middle of nowhere with no network connectivity and not a single soul around then you will love this feature. You can download the offline maps while you are connected to the internet and use it later to navigate to your destination. The offline map works automatically if you are out of network area or do not have internet connectivity.
You can either download the entire route by searching for your destination or a selective area or a place.
For the entire route, you have to swipe bottom up on the screen where you will find an option at the very end to download and save the route.
To download custom/selective area of the map, you have to select the Offline Areas option on the Google Maps menu. On the next screen, you have to select custom areas option which will lead you to the screen where you can zoom in and zoom out and select the area that you wish to use later. You can just give a name and save the offline map.
Note: Offline maps need to be updated regularly as it gets outdated after a month’s time.
The only low point is that you will not get live traffic details while using the offline feature but you will still get turn by turn navigation which is pretty awesome.
Reviews / Ratings / Popular Times
If you are searching for a place like a pub or a restaurant or any other building, Google Maps will also tell you the popular times for those places, opening and the closing times, phone numbers, website details and the reviews and ratings as rated by Google Maps users.
Check Photos & Take a Virtual Tour
Another interesting feature is that you can check pictures of the places you are heading to — photos, video and 360 degrees photographs uploaded by contributors, this not only helps you plan better but also gives you an idea about the place well ahead while planning your trip.
You can also contribute to the repository by being a local guide and earn points.
Nicknaming & Sharing Places
This feature comes in handy if you cannot remember names of places. There is an option to tag a place based on your preferences like BFF’s wedding venue or BAE’s favorite ice cream joint. Any fancy name that you can relate to and refer to in the future. You can also share the saved places with your friends on Social Media like WhatsApp, chats or emails.
This is a very useful feature for people using public transport. Google Maps provides public transit information likes buses or train routes with departure timings and the duration of the journey.
Book A Cab
You can also check cabs like Ola or Uber right from Google Maps App. It gives an estimated cost and availability of the cab service and redirects you to the app for bookings.
( PS: Ola and Uber Apps must be installed on your phone to continue with the booking)
Be a Local Guide
To be honest, I had no clue that there is a feature to be a Local guide and contribute to it too. The more you contribute, the more you level up as a Local Guide. Once you become a trusted local guide, Google even invites you to exclusive events. Once you reach Level 4 of the local guide you will get 100 GB for one year and other perks that come with it.
Few local guides from India were invited to California this year. If this incites you to become a local guide. Here is how you can be one.
The sign-up process is really simple and in 3 steps you can become a local guide. You just have to select the three lines on the top left corner to bring up the Google Maps menu and select the option “Be a Local Guide” and complete the steps as shown in the pictures below.
( PS: I am on level 2 now)
Hope all the tips and tricks that we’ve shared comes in handy for your next road trip.
Do let us know the features you loved the most and any new additions you want Google to roll out in near future.
The Tales of a Traveler was invited to be part of the Google Maps India Road Trip from Bangalore to Mysore.
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