I’m here, where are you?
The Holiday season is here and thanks to the internet, you are never too far away from a map now to show you where you want to go. And smart apps offer almost everything you need: from showing directions on maps and getting real time traffic details to finding friends nearby or being reminded of tasks based on your location. Use Google Maps to be more, ‘location aware’.
Google Maps is by and large, the world’s default online map service. If you want to quickly find any address on the planet, it’s usually best to turn to Google maps. And that’s just one aspect of their service. Not many people are aware of the things that it lets you do- like creating a map of directions for someone else or getting real time traffic updates or the tools it offers users while browsing Maps on the web.
The large ‘Get Directions’ button is simple as it gets. Fill the starting point in A and the destination in B and Google Maps will immediately give you detailed directions by road or by foot. If you don’t like the route chosen, you can even click and drag the blue outline marker to modify the path. Also incase you have to make multiple stops; Google Maps has you covered with the ‘Add destination’ option.
The next time you invite someone to your home, jazz up the invitation with a custom Google Map that brings them right to your doorstep.
To do this, click on the ’My Places’ button, select the ‘Maps’ option and then ‘Create Map’.
Give your map a title, write a short description and choose whether you want it to be visible to anyone in the world or only to those with whom you share the URL.
The mapping tools that are shown on the top-left corner of the map-are simple to understand and use. There’s a place marker with which you can label your home (for instance), along with giving it a description. Next to the place marker are the three types of lines you can draw: point to point, lines along roads (which is the option you should use for giving directions in most cases), or shapes.
Once you have traced the route on the map, you can share it with friends and even add collaborators to it, so others can add to and edit the map if needed. This feature is especially handy when you are going on a road trip with a group, so that everyone is kept updated and can even suggest different routes.
In the top right hand corner you will find the option to toggle between a Map view (flat design) and a satellite view. Under this toggle option there are more features such as terrain and weather.
Other features include:
Traffic: Google offers real time updates (especially for India) so you can decide which route to take. And it even estimates traffic conditions on a road during a particular day and time. The feature currently works for Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune.
Photos: When someone clicks a photo and tags it on Google Maps, it can be browsed by anyone. In fact there are so many photos of popular tourist destinations like the Taj Mahal in Agra that you can pretty much take a 360 degree tour of it.
A word of caution: GPS and mapping have great practical benefits, but there is one major downfall: your privacy. Anyone can ‘check in’ to a place or tag you on Face book or Twitter and it is almost impossible to delete and thus makes it easy for someone to track or stalk you. The only fool proof solution is to turn off your GPS at times and request people to not tag you without your consent. Similarly, while using online services like Twitter and Google, turn off the option to embed location by default. This is something you should be careful about when using location services.