Google Maps has come a long way since its 2005 launch. What was once a simple web-based application has become an increasingly indispensable tool that many of us use on a daily basis. The thing is when something becomes as widely used as Maps, it’s easy to forget just how much easier it makes your life. On the other hand, even if you’re a regular Maps user, you might not know about all the beneficial features it offers.
With that in mind, here are five ways that Google Maps makes your life easier.
- Saving you time, and fuel
Before maps became digital, anyone wanting to get somewhere they hadn’t previously been had a couple of choices: they could buy a physical map, plot out the route, and hope that all the information was correct. Alternatively, they could trust a combination of prior knowledge and blind luck and hope for the best. While the first option would usually get you there, it took time. If everything went your way, the second option could be quicker, but it could equally end in disaster. Today, you can simply open up Maps on your smartphone, get instant directions to the destination of your choice, and estimated time of arrival, and real-time traffic information. In 2016, the reductions in travel time thanks to Maps saved Nigerians some ₦190 billion (US $748 million) based on local wages.
- Making public transport a cinch
Unless you take the same route, using the same transportation mode every day, public transport can be pretty tough to figure out unless you’re using Google Maps. In cities around the world, people use Maps to help them get to where they need to go using public transport. Moreover, they’re able to do so quickly and efficiently.
This has also been true of Lagos for some time now. In 2014, Google launched Real-Time Transit information on the LAGBUS. This has enabled people in the city to access bus times on BRT routes, making it easier for them to use public transport and saving them from having to use a cab or hire a car.
- Maps changes the way you shop
Let’s say you need to do so some shopping. A few years ago, you would have had to ask the people in your neighborhood where you could find the various things you needed. The problem with that was that the people you asked would not always know where everything was and, even if they did, they might not have had the best recommendations.
Thanks to Google Maps, you can simply search for your nearest retailers and get instant reviews, giving you a good indication of where you should spend your money.
Using Maps also means that if you have to shop at multiple retailers, you can find the shortest routes between them, once again saving you time and, ultimately, money.
- Maps helps customers find businesses
Maps do not just help people get around, it also helps businesses attract customers. Businesses of all sizes can easily register on Maps, making it simple for prospective customers to find them.
As well as registering your location, you can include basic information about the business – such as operating hours – as well as your contact details.
And when it comes to helping people find you, Maps has another trick up its sleeve in the shape of Street View, which allows people to see what the surrounding neighborhood and the exterior of your building look like.
Not only does this give them a better sense of where you operate from, it also gives them confidence that they have arrived at the right location when they get to you.
Finally, the Maps API means that you can embed a map, with your location pinned to it, on your website.
- Maps help people find each other
In the old days, planning to meet up with someone in a location that neither of you was familiar with could be a major pain. How many of us remember the pain and frustration of trying to describe your surroundings to someone on the phone? It could take longer, wasted hours before you eventually found each other.
Nowadays you can simply share your location from the Maps app, allowing people to easily find each other, even in areas neither have either been to before. To activate this feature, simply tap on your location, tap share, and choose the person or people you want to share it with.
This feature is not just useful for helping people find each other. It can also help you remember where you have parked and discover nearby places.