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Tech tips

Google Maps and Apple Maps: 10 hidden settings you’ll use all the time

Thanks to the manmade constellation of satellites, we can use GPS to chart our paths. We don’t have to worry about getting lost in new areas because navigation apps help us find our way through unknown territory. Although most of us use them to get from point A to point B, they also offer a lot of secret GPS settings you should know about.

When it comes to navigation apps, you have two big options: Google Maps and Apple Maps. They help millions of people get to their destinations, no matter where they are. Tap or click here to blur your home in Google Maps and Apple Maps.

Since Google Maps and Apple Maps have been around for so long, developers have had ample time to come up with new features. You may have missed some of the most valuable updates, like voice control capabilities or the ability to track your parked car. Here are 10 secret GPS settings you can start using today.

Let’s start with Google Maps

We’re starting with Google Maps because it’s at the top of its game. Statista says it was the most popular American navigation app in 2021. Here are seven ways to make the most of it.

1. A handy trick for mall shoppers

A few years ago, Google added a directory tab to its search results. Whether you use Android or iOS, you can use the directory tab to locate stores, car rentals, parking lots and more. This applies to airports, malls, transit stations, and other places with tons of traffic.

It’s great for planning. The Google Maps directory feature lets you figure out where you should park. It will tell you which entrance will lead you to the store you’re trying to visit.

Here’s how to use it. First, open Google Maps on your phone. Then, look up whichever shopping center or mall you want to visit. For this example, I used Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Whenever you look up a location, the map is the first thing you’ll see on the screen. Scroll down and you’ll see some more information. That’s where the Directory option shows up.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Tap Directory and you’ll find a search bar. If you have a specific store in mind, type it and select it. Google Maps will give you directions to the parking lot closest to this store.

2. Use Google Maps in incognito mode

That’s right: You can navigate privately. If you’re wondering why this is an option, you may not know all of your visits are saved to your Google account. This means people may be able to see where you’ve been.

One researcher was able to see everywhere his wife went. It all came down to the Google Maps Timeline feature. Tap or click here for the story behind a feature that tracks your every movement.

Bottom line: Google knows where you go. If you don’t want a visit saved to your profile, turn on incognito mode. This way, Google Maps won’t keep your search history or update your location history.

How to turn off Incognito mode on an iPhone or iPad

  1. First, open Google Maps on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Then tap your profile picture in the top right corner.
  3. Lastly, tap Turn on Incognito mode.

How to turn off Incognito mode on an Android

  1. First, open Google Maps on your Android.
  2. Next, tap your profile picture in the top right corner.
  3. Then, tap Turn on Incognito mode.

RELATED: Incognito mode doesn’t do what you might think – Here’s the truth

3. Order a ride from Lyft or another service

Rideshare services are all the rage nowadays. That’s why Google Maps has a built-in feature that lets you find a ride from its app. Here’s what to do:

  1. Open Google Maps.
  2. Look up your destination.
  3. Tap Directions.
  4. Then, scroll down until you see a section labeled Ride service.

It will look something like this:

Tap in the Ride service box. From there, you can see a list of services, times and prices.

4. Use voice commands

You want both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road when you’re driving. However, that can be tough when you have to glance down at your map. Here’s another of our favorite secret GPS settings. We love it because it’s a life-saving feature you can set up in a snap.

To drive more safely, set up voice commands on your smartphone. That way, you can say, “Okay Google, navigate home.” You can also say an address and tell Google to take you there.

Once you set it up, it’s pretty easy and convenient. First, you’ll have to set up Google Assistant. Tap or click here to set it up on your Android, iPhone or iPad.

Then, when Google Maps is in navigation mode, either tap the Assistant microphone or say, “Okay Google.” Just like that, you can get step-by-step instructions without looking at your screen.

RELATED: Get the most out of Google Maps with Street View features

5. Add stops to a trip

Open Google Maps and enter your destination. Once the app knows your starting and stopping point, it’s time to add a stop. Tap the three dots in the right-hand corner. Then, tap Add Stop.

It will look something like this:

If you want to reorder the stops, you can do so. Just tap and hold a destination to move it around. Tap Done when it’s in the correct order.

(Fun fact: You can add up to nine stops on Google Maps. It’s an excellent option for busy bees who are constantly buzzing from point A to B!)

6. Where to find your parked car

I once wasted 15 minutes looking for my vehicle on the wrong side of the parking lot. Then I started saving my parking spot on Google Maps. It’s easy to set up:

  1. Open Google Maps on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Tap the blue icon that represents your location.
  3. Tap Save your parking.

Until you remove it, Google Maps will save your parking spot.

7. Share Maps with friends

This is a helpful trick to have in your back pocket if you’re separated from friends and family. Sharing a location or a map with friends can help you find each other. To share a place, business, address, Street View image or directions search, follow these steps.

How to share a map on an iPhone

  1. Open Google Maps.
  2. Find a place on the map. Then, touch and drop a pin. (You can also search for a location.)
  3. At the bottom, select the place’s name and address. Then, select Share. (If you don’t see it immediately, tap More, which will reveal Share.)
  4. Then, choose if you want to share this map or location through your messaging app or another app on your phone.

Here’s what it may look like on your phone:

How to share a map on an Android

  1. Open Google Maps and either search for a place or drop a pin.
  2. Then, select the place’s name and address.
  3. Select Share. (If you don’t see it, tap More > Share.) Choose which app you want to send the location through.

Just like that, you shared the link to your map. Want even more GPS secrets? Tap or click here for 10 hidden Google Maps tips and tricks.

Here are three Apple Maps tricks

Now that you know some of our favorite secret GPS settings in Google Maps, it’s time to move to Apple Maps. Check these out.

1. Look around the streets

You’ve probably heard of Street View from Google Maps. Here’s the Apple version. Tour the streets and look through any location you look up with this feature.

Look up a city in Apple Maps. Tap the binoculars icon near the bottom of the map. From there, you can pan by dragging your finger left or right.

Tapping moves you forward. You can zoom in or out by pinching the screen open or closed. You can even switch out of full-screen view to see another place. Just tap another spot on the map, zoom in and you’re good to go.

2. Share your ETA during navigation

Sometimes, your friend gets there before you do. You want to let them know when you’ll arrive. Luckily, you can share your estimated time of arrival in a snap.

  1. Open Apple Maps.
  2. Look up the destination.
  3. Tap Directions and pick your route.
  4. Once you’re in navigation mode, say, “Hey Siri, share my ETA with my friend.”

You’ll just have to say your friend’s name so Siri can recognize the person in your contacts list. Just like that, your friend will get a notification that you’re on the way.

3. Clear your location history

Like Google Maps, Apple Maps remembers your searches if you want to revisit a place you looked up in the past. You may want to delete your history for privacy reasons. Just open Apple Maps and swipe up to open the information panel.

You’ll see your history under Recents. Tap Delete to delete a specific location. To delete your complete history, tap See All > Clear.

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