HomeArticlesGoogle Maps, 5 Awesome Tips (you probably did not know!)
Google Maps, 5 Awesome Tips (you probably did not know!)
October 11, 2019
Steve Dotto here. How the heck are you this
fine day? Today, we are going to take a look at Google Maps. How can I have been doing
this demos as long as I have without diving into one of the most useful tools Google gives
us? But it’s one of tools I think we all take for granted. We just expect Google Maps
to be there and to work for us. We go in and we use it but we just don’t really dive
in and see exactly what cool features Google has added. And trust me, Google has added
some very cool features. Prepare to see them today on DottoTech.
Before we dive into Google Maps, a quick shout out to all of our Patreon supporters. DottoTech
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by our Patreon page. If you are one of our Patreon supporters, thank you so much. Let’s
dive into Google Maps now and take a look. Now Google Maps is one of those apps where
I think most of us just use kind of the top 5%. We use it to find what we’re looking
for and make sure we can get directions to go where we’re going and we haven’t looked
at the depth that Google has added to Google Maps. Google has been working so hard on making
Google Maps a very, very rich environment and there are so many new features and so
many additional features I think we’d better take a look at them. So I’m going to look
at five of them today. Some of them are just cool and some of them are super useful.
Let’s start with the just cool side. Street View which is Google’s street level view,
they’ve been since 2007 taking photos of all of our streets, sometimes somewhat controversially,
but they’ve been taking pictures of all of the streets and now they’ve done that
cycle several times. They’ve installed a Way Back machine that allows us to go and
look at what the street looked like years before. Now we can go back about seven or
eight years now, back to 2007 is when they started in my area. So let’s take a look
at how that works. Now if you haven’t used Street View before,
all you do is grab the little guy, the little stick man from the tool bar from the tool
menu and you drag them over to whatever area you want to look at. I was thinking, what
it would show well? What would show you how the city has evolved? I live in Vancouver
and we had the Olympics in 2010. So 2007 we were still in construction. We were getting
ready for the Olympics and one of the things that we did put in place was a Sky Train,
an elevated rail and it actually goes underground to get people from the airport, which is here
in Richmond, downtown in Vancouver which is here. Right about here, there’s this Sky
Train station. You can see it right there. So I thought we’d take a look at the Street
View of that because it was under construction at that point.
This is what it looks like today. If we go down and go to that Station, there’s a bus
loop right here and this takes the train just as you enter Vancouver. But if we take a look
here in the left-hand side just in the menu, they’ve got this little clock which is basically
a calendar icon which allows you to go back to 2007. Now there have been four different
photos or different street views of this location and the first one indeed look, they were under
construction at that time. This is fantastic. Look, just the pillars were in place and they’ve
just begun getting ready to put in the station. Fast-forward two years later to April 2009,
just before the Olympics themselves started a couple months before, and they’re in their
final stages of construction. The next one 2011, they’ve better be finish by now. Yes,
indeed they are. It’s open for business. People are happy. They’ve even got little
bits of artwork happening there. Then this is how it looks today as we’ve started with.
Isn’t that fun? So you can go in and you can take a look at
different locations within your city where changes have happened over the years. This
is great now with 8 years of data. Imagine what it is going to be like in 20 or 30 years,
to be able to go back in different locations and see all of the different construction
and the different changes to your environment. This is awesome. I don’t know all the practical
purposes for it yet and I’m sure some will be legal, unfortunately. But just to be cool,
I love this feature. Let’s take a look at some of the more practical
features now of Google Maps. One of the most practical is of course finding resources.
So let’s just stay in the same area here. We’ll stay in the same map. A lot of people
don’t know you can just go to the search field and search for things. You don’t even
have to search for an address or anything but let’s say I’ve just blown my muffler.
All of a sudden you get that terrible sound in your car, the muffler. This is a great
way to find local muffler shops. I just type in ‘muffler’ and then do a quick search
and it does a search within the map and up will come little indicators. There it is,
Budget Brake and Mufflers right there. There’s another place here. There’s Big O tires
here. All of these different hotspots represent different places that relate to the term muffler.
If I refine the term to ‘muffler shop’ does it change? It doesn’t change too much.
But you can see how you can type in and you can find local services just by typing in
a general category. Now this local search works really well and if you zoom in more—this
is one of the things that I love—it’s just doing what’s in your area and what’s
around. Let’s say you’re bored or you’ve just moved in to a new city or you’re visiting
a city and you’re staying at a hotel and you don’t know what’s around, you don’t
want to go and just walk in the streets, if you just type in an asterisk in the search
field and hit Enter, it will have a little dot with every single business. Every single
point of interest where you are is going to be identified by a little red dot. You can
zoom in on them and if you click on anyone, you can of course get information about what
it is. That is a great way to just kind of see what’s happening in your area. Here
we go. Right over here. As we get more granular, as we get more detail, we get to see all of
the things that are happening. So this is a way to see exactly what’s happening.
Of course, the way that we use Google Maps the most is to get directions to go from one
place to another but again, we seldom dive in to see exactly how rich those directions
are. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that we’re spending the day at the Pacific
National Exhibition, our fair here in Vancouver, but we’re going to spend the evening at
the theatre. We’re going to a Rep theatre company here at Vancouver and see Summer Stock
Theatre. What we’re going to do is we’re going to click on getting directions. You
put on your starting and ending point. So your starting point is Pacific National Exhibition.
Our ending point will be Theatre Under the Stars.
Now one cool thing to notice here is these searches that we’re creating right now are
saved with our Google Account which is very cool because it means that when we go into
our mobile devices later, these same searches will be there in our mobile device, which
I love the idea of. It’s very cool. Anyway, here we go. What it does is it gives us our
different routing options and it tells us driving it will take about 23 minutes, 19
minutes without traffic and it basically gives us the general routing. But watch what happens
if we choose instead of driving, if we choose the transit option. I love this. Now it gives
us the buses, how long it should take us, where we have to talk, which bus numbers we
have to take and what their schedule is. So it provides s all the public transit information
to follow our route. If we need to walk, it gives us the best walking
directions, including the kind of a short cut that you wouldn’t normally take while
you were driving. It also has biking directions. Now this is where we start the different layers
of information that Google gives us in the maps. Vancouver has biking routes, safe lanes
for bikes to transit the city. Look, it gives us the directions there. It’s taken a very
different route, a little bit longer route than biking but way safer in the appropriate
route for bikes to take, far more comfortable and as I say safe for bikers. It’s going
to take you 38 minutes to ride your bike from one to the next and it’s 10 and a half kilometers.
Isn’t that amazing? These extra silos and these extra layers of information is what
makes Google Maps so exciting. Every time they add another layer of information on top
of a map, it becomes something that we can gain access to, we can use, we can search
and we can take advantage of. So I encourage you to dive a little deeper
into Google Maps the next time that you use it. And with that, we have reached the end
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a great one. Have fun storming the castle!