Google Maps is a fantastic service, but most of its users never realise just how much they can benefit from adding little personal touch.
For starters, you can set your Home and Work locations, making getting between them and any other location a breeze. It’s also very easy to check local restaurants, bars, coffee houses and attractions around you using the explore options. This can turn any evening around from boring to exciting very quickly. You may also be surprised at the number of restaurants and bars in your local area and even find a few new favorite spots you never knew were there.
Finally, you can also build your own shareable custom maps using locations, descriptions, directions, and your own drawn-lines and shaded-in areas. We’ve gone in to this in a separate My Maps guide.
Setting Home and Work in Google Maps
Setting Home and Work can be done via the Google Maps mobile app or on a PC web browser.
On a phone, find the [Settings] option by pressing the on-screen menu button near the bottom left of the display and select [Edit home or work] .
In the PC browser, click on [My Places] in the top left next to [Get directions]. In the list of tabs below, make sure [All] is selected. If it is, the Home and Work options are displayed underneath.
Once you’ve set these, you can find them by simply typing “Home” or “Work” in to the Google Maps search bar and selecting the first suggestion. This is much faster than typing in the address every time.
Another, often faster method is through Google Now. Speaking “navigate home” or “directions to home” can bring up driving and walking instructions that link to Google Maps. Unfortunately, the voice functionality doesn’t always work, and sometimes brings up random locations and businesses beginning with “Home”. You might be better off typing it in depending on your device’s idiosyncrasies.
Get acquainted with your surroundings
This is a super-simple way of checking out restaurants, bars, coffee houses and general attractions in your area. Just tap on the empty search bar in your phone and below will appear a row of icons.
Restaurants: Tends to just show restaurants and not bars that serve food. You may get a café or two thrown in, so make sure you tap on each location to check it out before deciding on a dining locale.
Coffee: Generally anywhere that sells coffee; but definitely not everywhere. This is probably the category with the most missing venues, but it’s still a great way to find a cuppa joe in a pinch.
Bars: Shows bars and hotels. If you live in an urban area, you’ll probably be astounded at the number of local watering holes you’d never heard of. It’s also a handy tool for when you’re in a new city or suburb and are looking for a nice cold one.
Attractions: Shows both physical attractions and activities. For instance, if you're travelling in Sydney it shows both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Bridge Climb, along with reviews of the experience. This is handy for travelers, but not particularly for local residents.