Turn-by-turn directions are so last decade compared to some of the more recent updates of Google Maps, includingand . If you already know Google Maps as a navigation tool, powers at the next level are just a tap, push or swipe away.
To unleash the hidden power of the Google Maps app on your phone or tablet, view the five ways I use Google Maps almost daily that have nothing to do with getting directions.
See how long the line is everywhere, from Walmart to the DMV
Before I walk out the door, whether I go to Walmart, the supermarket, the doctor's office or to renew my driver's license, I almost always look on Google Maps to see how busy I can expect my destination. Here you can read how you can look up that information.
In the Google Maps app, tap the business or location you want to visit and scroll down until you see a chart labeled Popular times . Tap the day of the week if you are planning a trip for later that week.
Tap the red column to view the current pedestrian data, or one of the blue columns to get a summary of how busy you can expect it to be at another time: Not busy Not too busy A little busy or As busy as it gets .
Then, under the heading Plan your visit, you will find general information such as peak waiting times ("up to 5 minutes from 6 am – 12 noon") and duration of average visit ("People usually spend 20 minutes here" through "). Now you know if you will be in and out quickly or if you need to pack a good book or just plan your visit for another day when the waiting times are not that long.
View menus & photos, photos & customer reviews
In addition to navigation tools, Google Maps is also a complete crowdsourced review app, like Yelp or TripAdvisor, giving you a good idea of what kind options that your destination offers, as well as price, presentation and whether you need to take out a loan to pay for it.
This feature is especially useful if your destination is a restaurant, hotel or bar, where examples of menu options and prices – not to mention good viewing of the dishes and decor – your decision to try somewhere can make or break new. For those who rely on the wisdom of crowds, it also shows the 5-star average of the restaurants and individual reviews to take into account in your decision.
On most restaurant listings, you will see a navigation bar at the top with Overview Menu Reviews and Photos & # 39; s listed as options (you may need to scroll sideways to see them all). Tap one of these or simply scroll down. The link with the Menu label is often displayed just below the opening times, but keep scrolling until you see the heading Popular dishes to see photos of food. Keep Passing Popular Times to almost all the way down to find the 5-star average of the restaurant and user reviews. . ] Get an idea of the type of cuisine that a restaurant offers by browsing menus & photos, reviews & ratings in the Google Maps app. James Martin / CNET
Reserve a table or place an order for execution or delivery
Once you have viewed all your restaurant options, you usually do not even have to leave the Google Maps app to make a reservation. If you prefer to eat at home, you can usually order execution or delivery from the app.
If the restaurant you have chosen uses a booking service such asyou will see a tab under the option Menu with the text Find a table or Reserve a table . You do not actually have to register with the booking service to make the reservation (although if you collect bonus points or otherwise actively use the service, you still want to).
Search for an option with the label Place an order . A pop-up gives you a list of available services, such as DoorDash or Postmates, but you must log in to complete your order, so if you have an account with one of them, you probably want to choose it.  Hey, Google Assistant, how did you get on my iPhone?
I spend most of my digital life in the famous walled garden of the Apple ecosystem, with one notable exception: I use a Google Home ($ 79 at Walmart) with Google Assistant operate my smart home.
Google Assistant is not baked on iOS likebut a setting in Google Maps lets you slide Siri aside so that you always have access to Google Assistant while navigating.
To set the Google Maps app on your iPhone to listen to "OK, Google" while navigating, open the Google Maps app and tap the menu icon (the three horizontal lines stacked) left of search bar) and then tap Settings . Tap at the top of the page, under the heading Move tap Navigation, and then browse to the option labeled Access your assistant with "OK Google" and turn the switch on.
Granted, this solution is a bit conceited – you must set up Google Maps to navigate to a specific destination to get the voice command & # 39; OK, Google & # 39; to make it work, and you can't call Siri with & # 39; Hey, Siri & # 39; while this function is on. But until Android can free me from my iPhone, it's better than nothing.
Find opening times, phone numbers, zip code and more
When I need to know when a store or office opens or closes, or when I have to call the place and I don't have the number, or in the rare case that I have the zip code for a company whose street name and number is all I know by heart (say for a job application), I go straight to Google Maps to get these answers and more.
Here you can quickly and easily find basic information about locations in Google Maps:
Operating hours : The opening times of companies are displayed directly below the address. You can tap the down arrow down next to today's closing time to view hours for other days of the week. Most entries are updated with special holiday hours, which are marked in a red font.
Telephone numbers : Under operating hours you will find the telephone number in most lists. To call without leaving Google Maps, tap the number and then the pop-up window with the prompt Call followed by the number.
Website : If the company has a website, it will be listed under the telephone number. Tap it to open the website on a Google Chrome tab in the Google Maps app.
Postcode : This is less common, but when I need it, Google Maps has saved me a lot of time. Enter the street name and number or company name and tap search. At the top of the list next to the address you will now see the zip code.
Of course, Google Maps is also packed with features that help with what the app is most clearly designed to do – show you how to get where you are going. Start with these. If you use Google Maps to navigate during a major road trip, . If you encounter accidents, speed checks or other delays while on the road, you can now report up to seven different types of road incidents directly from the Google Maps app.
Originally published last month.