Google Maps is a tried and tested app you’ll find on nearly everyone’s phone. Even when the iPhone rolled out its own Maps app and removed Google as a default addition, loyal users still downloaded the app en masse. After all, as one of the biggest internet companies in the world, it’s hard to compete with Google’s data collection and, by extension, the quality of its navigational information.
Indeed, given Google’s impressive range of data and the dominance it has in the mobile navigation market, it’s rather impressive that the company still feels the need to innovate. But it makes sense. With competitors like Waze and CityMapper slowly chipping away at Google Maps’ users, it seems that the navigation app is finally offering some features that incentivise its users to stick with it. As Forbes recently reported, “Google’s Maps division is tinkering with new tools to cater suggestions to users, enhance user engagement and more tangibly show the effects of marketing efforts like Google AdWords.” They are clearly not resting on their laurels, which is good for consumers even if it’s rather frustrating for competitors.
If you’ve been using Google Maps for a while, you may simply see it as a means of getting from A to B without any frills. But there are some impressive features you may be missing out on or are unaware of. Equally, if you’re a business owner with a listing on Google Maps, there could also be some features that might greatly increase your business revenue. Here is a look at some of Google Maps’ intriguing new upgrades that you should start using right now:
Make lists: If you’ve always fancied yourself a bit of a travel guide or curator, Google’s new list function lets you save locations and places that you want to visit again or suggest to friends. You can create your own categories like “Favorites”, “Want to Go” or “Vacation” to save spots for later. You can also share the lists with friends so you don’t have to send emails with recommendations lists any more. As Business Insider pointed out, “The lists provide directions, hours of operation, and ratings without having to leave Maps, making this a more convenient option for both parties than texting, or sharing a Google Doc or Notes entry.”
Google Mashups: Google Maps can be used to plot other data sources, resulting in unique creative products like a map of US Zip code boundaries or a map of locations from the fictional series “Doctor Who.” If you have a map-related project that’s been on your mind but haven’t had the data to make it a reality, you can simply use the best shortcut ever by using Google Map’s data as your backdrop.
Become an “area of interest”: As Google itself said in a press release, “Smartphones have become the companion that people turn to in I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy moments throughout the day.” If you own a business, you want to meet your potential customers in those moments by making sure you are designated as an “area of interest” on Google Maps. If your business isn’t big enough to be warranted as that yet, Forbes advises the following: “If Google doesn’t flag your hotel or theater in its shaded region, it’s time to ramp up your organic and local SEO efforts by submitting citations and keeping your Google My Business information up to date; then reach out to Google to see if your business is an area of interest.”
Plan your driving route based on traffic: Thanks to its wealth of users, Google can deduce the worst traffic patterns in your commute based on the amount of apps being used. If you combine Google Map’s traffic view with its “choose alternative route” feature, you can plan the ideal commute with minimal traffic based on real-time data every day.