Google Maps for Android Tutorial

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by MatLax, Apr 25, 2020.

  1. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    LEAVE A MESSAGE OR SEND ME A DIRECT MESSAGE IF THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH THE GUIDE AND YOU CAN'T SEE THE PICTURES!

    This is a guide for Android devices, I have never used Google Maps on iOS so I can’t guarantee things work the same way. Have a route you’re used to in mind and I’ll show you how to use Google Maps to navigate it. It’s also written for people who are not used to using electronic navigation tools and the intention is to help them get started with a basic application so they can move on to more complete tools later if they need it.

    Here's a PDF version of the guide so you can keep a backup on your phone to use when out in the middle of nowhere:
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1KgzdNmKR3JjDeoLj8QKZgX9akcxqUJ0J

    1) Getting your phone ready for navigation

    2) Downloading offline maps

    3) Automatic directions to a set point and basic options

    4) Adding more stops

    5) Saving routes

    6) Sending the route exactly where you want it to go

    7) Other things you can do

    8) But is there an easier way?

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    1) Getting your phone ready for navigation

    This part needs to be done no matter what navigation app you’re using.

    First things first, we need to make sure your GPS is activated and running properly so it works well even without cell signal.

    Pull down the Notification Panel by swiping down from the top of your screen and press the Teardrop Icon (it's a pin but let's be honnest, it's easier to describe it as a teardrop) to activate Location if it isn’t active already (see the difference with the grey icon which means it’s disactivated, this is to notify that there’s no SIM card in my phone).

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    Next we need to make sure the cellphone gets its location from its internal antenna only. On some phones you can just hold your finger on the Teardrop Location Icon used previously and it will take you directly where you need to go, if not just keep reading. Go back to your Home Screen (by swiping the Notification Panel up or pressing the Round Button at the bottom of the screen, this one will always bring you back to your Home Screen) then open the Application Drawer (swipe up from the bottom of the screen or press the white icon with dots, that varies from phone to phone) and find your Settings (it will look like a gear).

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    Inside the Settings Menu you need to find the Location option and open it (you might have a Search Bar [Magnifier Icon] in your Settings Menu to help you find it). If you can’t find it at all there’s a way to open it from inside Google Maps, so just skip ahead to part 2. In there you should have either Mode or Scanning, open that to disable all extra scanning options. In Mode you’ll have to select Device Only, in Scanning you’ll need to disable Wi-Fi Scanning and Bluetooth Scanning. If you have both options (like in my case) just make sure both are set to the correct parameters.

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    You now need to make sure you’ve got Google Maps installed. Open the Play Store to either install or update the application. Here’s a picture of the old and new Google maps icon, if you already have the application but it has the icon on the left it needs an update. Go in your Application Drawer as you did to enter Settings and find the Play Store instead, open it.

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    Once in there you will need to create a Google Account (please, PLEASE, use a name and password you’ll remember) or log in to your existing Gmail account if it’s not done already. Once that’s done just do a search for Google Maps with the Search Bar at the top and download the application with the Teardrop Logo (not Google Maps Go). Once in there just install the application or update it if required.

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    The next part is very simple, we need to make sure the application has access to your location. Open Google Maps, the icon should be on your Home Screen, if you can’t see it scroll left or right, it might be on another page, if you still can’t find it open your Application Drawer and it will be in there (I know my LG phone doesn’t add applications to the Home Screen by default).

    On the main screen press the Location Icon, looks like a crosshair, and it should ask for access to the device’s location, allow it, if there’s a second screen where they mention a better experience, just press NO, THANKS (at least we’re polite!)

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    Wait a bit and you should see your location appear on the map as a blue dot with a blue cone (showing your orientation), if you press the Location Icon again it will center and zoom the screen on it. One more step before we start mapping!
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  2. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    2) Downloading offline maps


    You’ll need to open the Option Menu on Google Maps’ main screen (it’s accessible by taping your Profile Picture in the top right, on older versions it was in the Hamburger Menu in the top left, the Hamburger won’t be there at all if you’re on the latest version), that’s where you’ll find where to download your Offline Maps so open that. If you couldn’t find you Location settings earlier you can open Settings (right under Offline Maps) and then Google Location Settings and go back up to setup your phone.


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    OR


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    You’ll see it’s not too hard to download maps from there, I recommend that you do it from a Wi-Fi network instead of using your cellphone data, if you download a section with a big city the size of the map can add up to a big amount (1Gb for a section that includes both Paris and London, a bit less if you’ve got New York and Philadelphia). You can access the Settings (to make sure to download over Wi-Fi only) by pressing the gear at the top-right corner.


    To choose an area and download it just tap Select Your Own Map then by pinching or stretching the screen with two fingers you can zoom in and out (that will make the downloaded area bigger or smaller in relation to the map, up to an area of about 500km x 250km) and you can move around using one finger. Once you’ve chosen an area just press download, you can download more areas by pressing Select Your Own Map again.


    There’s a limit to the number of maps you can download, from what I’ve read it’s 24. The maps will expire after a year, which leaves you plenty of time to update them, but I’ve read that it will be more frequent for some locations, although even a big city like New York doesn’t expire for a year and it’s the same for developing suburbs like where I live, so who knows?


    Once you’re done downloading you can press the three dots and rename, view, update or delete the map, this way you can easily identify which map to delete if you need to download another section of the world to continue your trip.


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  3. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    3) Automatic directions to a set point and basic options


    Alright, from this point on my cellphone is disconnected from any data just to show you can do all of that even in the middle of nowhere.


    First press the search bar, enter a destination and tap the right one in the list once it finds it. The screen will zoom on that destination and you can press Directions to see a map of the route to get there from your current location. As you can see in my example it sends me on the highway but I don’t like highways so by pressing the Three Dots (top right) I can go in Route Options and tell it to avoid motorways (or tolls or ferries) which gives me a different route. If you accidently rotate the map you’ll see a new icon pointing north, just press it to put north back at the top of your screen.


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    At this point you can press Start to begin navigation or Steps And More to see step by step instructions to get from Your Location to your Destination (à la rally roadchart if you will). On the Navigation Screen the Magnifier lets you search for things along the way (like gas stations), the Speaker lets you adjust to get step by step audio instructions, alerts only or no audio, the Bubble with a + lets you report things like a roadwork or speed traps, obviously it’s not recommended that you play with these options while in movement! Alerts reported by other users will show up on the map if you’ve got data connection (more on that later).


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    While in driving mode you can zoom in and out, rotate the map (two fingers and rotate), at the top the green Instructions Pannel shows you where you need to go and your next step, if you press it you’ll have more incoming steps. The icon with an arrow split in two let’s you see a zoomed out map with the whole route. The triangle gives you access to other options (including, in the settings menu, Keep North Up, if you’re like me you’ll find it disorienting if it’s not the case, another option you might need to pay attention to is the Colour Scheme, you’ll understand later) and you can go there if you want to share your live location with someone but it only works with data activated. If you play with the screen to look around you can press Recentre to go back to the default view.
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  4. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    4) Adding more stops


    Alright so what if you need to go to more than one place? Press back and go back to the screen where you could see the route to the first location and in the upper right corner press the three dots and then Add Stop. You’ll now see the different stops along your route, first is Your Location, second is whichever destination you entered first and then Add Stop. Press Add Stop and the process is exactly the same as when you entered your first destination. After that you can enter more locations up to 10 total (including the first one which is “Your Location” in this case).


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    Once you’ve entered everything just press Finished and it will zoom on the first part of the route (from Your Location to Stop A), you can zoom in an out to check the route, go into Steps and More to familiarize yourself with the directions and when you’re ready to go press Start to begin navigation.


    When you reach your first Stop you’ll have a screen asking you if you want to end your trip or continue, pressing continue will send you to the next Stop you added (if the route doesn’t show up just zoom out and recentre, the route should show up). If you change your mind and want to eliminate the next Stop without having to exit navigation and modifying everything just press the X in the lower left corner and the option to Remove Next Stop will be there (keep that in mind for when you’re offroad, more details later). If you want to edit any other parts of the route you need to exit navigation and it will take you back to the menu you were in before.


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    There’s three things you can see in the pictures, in the second one there’s a grey route on the right side, because my Wi-Fi was on it gave me an alternative route to reach my destination and you can see a bit of the bubble that tells me it will take 6 more minutes. If I decided to take the alternative route I would just need to tap it. In the same picture you can also see that the upper left part of the map has a red section, that means there’s traffic at that point, orange would mean it slows down but is still moving, red would mean traffic is stopped. The third picture shows what happens when the application switched to night mode vs day mode in the last picture, it’s nice to not get blinded at night, but sometimes it will switch when there’s still light outside and you won’t see the screen anymore, so you can turn that off by pressing the triangle and going in the Settings menu.
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  5. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    5) Saving routes for later


    So as I said you can’t have more than 10 destinations total, which is probably the biggest drawback to using Google Maps… But there’s an easy way to deal with that and it’s to divide your trip in small sections. Let’s say I use the same trip I had for my previous examples, for my first two stops the route was exactly how I wanted it, but after that I know there’s some nice dirt roads along the way between Mont Cascades and Maniwaki so let’s make that part more interesting.


    I’ll start by making my first section with my two destinations as I wanted them. Next I need to make a separate route from Mont Cascades to Maniwaki but I don’t want to lose the work I’ve done to make the first route so after pressing Finished in the three dots menu and there’s an option to Add Route to Home Screen.


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    So that’s how you can save a route for later, go back to your Home Screen (by pressing the round button at the bottom) and it will be there (again, swipe left or right if you can’t see it) with the last destination as its name. As you can see in the picture I’ve got my original long trip named Prescott-Russell and a second one named Mont Cascades which is the one I just created.


    By holding your finger on it you can move it around, make sure to organize the different maps you’re making because sadly there’s no way to rename the shortcuts. If you move them and put them over one another you can create folders for your different trips and you can rename those. If you move a shorcut and hold it to the far left or right side of the screen it will move from page to page and you can create new pages to organise everything.


    Press the square button at the bottom to show all the applications you’ve got opened and go back to Google Maps.
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  6. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    6) Sending the route exactly where you want it to go


    Now that that you’ve got a backup of the first leg of your journey you’ll create a new trip from scratch. The first destination you’ll search for is the point at which you want to begin (which should be the same as the last point in our previous trip), press Directions and then you can see there’s two arrows to switch Your Location and Your Destination around, press it. Now you can press on Your Location and change it to be your final destination for this part of your trip.


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    That gives you the default road like you had earlier and that’s not what you want. You already know how to add more stops to a trip, so that’s what you’ll do, add stops that will force the route to go where you want instead of its default, most efficient, option.


    Instead of searching for a destination like you did in the previous parts you can use the Choose on Map option and move the pointer around to select points on smaller roads (pinch and stretch to zoom in and out, one finger to move around, you should have the hand of it now). Once you select a new stop you need to hold the two lines and move that stop up above your final destination (otherwise it will take the default route to your final destination and then come back to that stop).


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    Add more stops along the way and check the map between each addition to make sure it’s going where you want it to, also make sure things are in the right order. Sometimes you might need to move a stop around a bit so the route deviates where you want it instead of taking the main road to pass where you want to go and coming back around (see next pictures).


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    Once you’re done you’ll have a bunch of stops going from your starting point to your final destination and the road should be going where you want it. You might not be able to do thousands of km long stretches of road if there’s too many branching patchs and sometimes you might have to split up even more but you’ll be able to create routes that are long enough that you’ll probably be due for a break when you have to switch routes anyway. Don’t forget to Add Route to Home Screen when you’re done so you can open it again and edit it as needed! In my example below, the easy way to notice the difference is in the upper third, the default route goes through Gracefield but I made it deviate to take the dirt roads east of it instead, if I zoomed in you would see that there’s a river and I made the route follow the east side from Wakefield (down south) all the way to Maniwaki instead of the west side on road 105.


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    Now I don’t know if you’ve notices but when you pressed Finished you can’t start navigation. That’s because your starting point is a fixed location. What you’ll need to do when you’re ready to travel that route is to press the three dots to edit your stops, move the list to see where you’re starting, press your starting point, press X and then chose My Location so it uses that as your starting point and allows you to navigate.


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    Remember when I told you you can Remove Next Stop while navigating? When you’re offroad you’ll probably want to do that whenever you’re close enough to a stop, so it doesn’t have to show the “You’ve reached your destination” screen while you’re riding a tough section. You can buy gloves that work with phones or add conductive thread to your glove’s fingertip. It’s also practical if you need to exit navigation to check something on the map and want to start navigating again, just reload your route and remove the stops you passed already.
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  7. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    7) Other things you can do


    You might have noticed that you have a couple more options in the same menu as Add Route to Home Screen like Share Directions which allow you to send the list of instructions to someone else, if you’re connected to Wi-Fi or to cellphone data you can send it via a text message or email, if you’re out in the boonies you can send it through Bluetooth and the file will end up in the Downloads folder. As you can see from the pictures, my other phone needed to be on the Bluetooth conection page in order to be visible to the phone from which I was sending the file (pictured are both phones, you can spot the difference with the colour of the bar at the bottom).


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    The Share Your Location option will only work with High Accuracy GPS so don’t forget to turn that off after (first part of the guide). You can share your location for a set amount of time or for as long as you don’t turn it off. It, obviously, requires data to be active so it’s not very practical in remote locations, but it as far as I know it gives your last known location if it can’t find you at that moment, so it can be a good way to give an idea of where you are even if it’s not extremely precise (it will send a signal to Google’s server if you ever get data connection even out in the middle of nowhere). I’ll correct this info if I’m wrong. I know Google also had the Trusted Contacts app that let you do something similar.


    On the main screen you can use the search bar for things that are not locations or addresses like Restaurants, Pharmacies, Gas Stations or even Sex Shops(!!!), it will always search in the area around where you’re positioning the map so you can use that to scout ahead to know where to go next if you need to stop for something in particular.


    In the Main Settings you can go to Commute Settings to enter your home and work addresses and get warning notifications if you need to leave early because of traffic and stuff like that.


    On the map you might have noticed an icon that’s a square with an arrow underneath (top right corner of the map), that’s your layers, if you’re online you can use satellite and terrain views to have a better idea of what you’re heading in and you can change the level of details on the map.


    If you press and hold on a location on the map a red pin will appear, if you then press the lower part of the screen where it describes that location (where it’s written District de Limbour in my example) you’ll have access to more details including a street view if you’re connected to the internet, but it will also go you a Measure Distance tool, from there you can move the map around and it will give you a measure of the distance from that point in a straight line and you can press the + Icon to add points and measure from the original point to the next and to the next and so on, that can be practical if you just want to have an idea how far things are without having to create a route. From the same menu where you selected Measure Distance you can also save locations or add labels to easily find place you’ve been or want to go.


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  8. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    8) But is there a more practical way?


    Damn straight there is! This guide got you ready to make routes while on the go, but do you really want to do it this way in the comfort of your home when you could use a big screen instead? Heck no!


    Obviously if you’ve got a tablet at home you can build the routes this way and share them to your phone via email, but you can also use your computer instead. Let’s go on on your computer and on the interwebz, open Google Maps (https://maps.google.com), in the top right corner sign in to your Google account (optional but helpful). Now let’s build the same route as earlier shall we?


    First move the map (with the mouse, scroll wheel to zoom in and out, hold left click and drag to move around) to what is your location an click once on the map to select it, then in the lower part click on the road sign to start building the route. Don’t forget to switch the first two stops around so your first point matches with you starting point. You can set if you want to avoid highways, ferries and tolls in the Options Menu.


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    Once you’re happy with your map you can select Send Directions To Your Phone if you’re signed in or just a bit lower you can press Details and you’ll have three icons, one to send to your phone, one to share and one to print, using share will give you a link that you can send via email and open from your phone. That’s a permanent link so you can use it to save all your routes to a document if you want. I usually create a document with all the links and a description of everything and copy that to an email to send to myself, the people I ride with and our safety contacts. You can also just as easily copy and paste the address bar but that will create a very long link and it might get confusing when trying to open and save multiple routes from an email on your phone.


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    When creating a map on your computer something nice you can do is easily create routes that deviate from the default path (like you did on your phone). I’ll use the same route as the other one I modified earlier in this guide, just do the same.

    After entering the start and the end just put your mouse over the proposed route and you’ll see “Drag to change route” appear so do just that, left click and hold, drag the route where you want to see it go and build your custom route. Sadly when sending to you phone it won’t take these points into consideration, but it’s helpful as you can to easily know where to add Destinations in order to build a route that you can send to your phone. So just click on Add Destination and then click on the dots for the first deviation and then add destination again and the dot for the second deviation and so on (do that first) and then reorganize the destinations in the right order in the menu on the left. After that you can send that to your phone and add it to your home screen like you would if you had built it on there.


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    You can also create the base route from the start to the end and add a destination at a point inbetween, then move that destination in the list above the end and just drag the point on the map to adjust the route. Do that again and again and you’ll end up with the same result. I usually use the drag route function then add destinations after because it’s easier to use as little points as possible this way, then I can extend the route past the original end point.


    So that’s pretty much it! I’ll modify the guide as required. This PDF version is there so you have a backup with you even without being connected to the internet but the real guide is on ADVRider in the Mapping & Navigation section. My username on there is MatLax, if you can’t find the guide just check my profile for my posts.
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  9. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    Reserved for later
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  10. MC_Collector

    MC_Collector Retired and riding!

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    When you drag the route to your choice on the computer and send it to your phone will the phone lose the way you chose to route it? I did this some time ago (> 1 year) and it got rerouted so that it went to the shortest route on the phone or will the "avoid motorways" override that? Google may have changed the program to what you have described since I last tried.
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  11. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    Sadly when you just drag the route on the website and send to your phone it only takes what's in the "Destination" fields into consideration. I've reported to Google that there should be a way to automatically convert all the dragged points to Destinations instead, in the meantime as mentioned in the guide you can used those markers to know where to drop destinations, you just have to drop them all before you reorganize them in order so it starts by adding to your route after what will really be your final destination without screwing up where you've dragged the route to your liking... I don't know if that's clear, maybe I should add more pictures to the guide to explain that better...

    Or you can create your route from Start to End, add a third destination and put it somewhere between Start and End, it will show up as a third stop after what you want to be your End, so on the left side just put things back in order and then you can drag the destination you just added around, add a fourth destination and do the same thing, rinse and repeat until you have the finished product...
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  12. MC_Collector

    MC_Collector Retired and riding!

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    Thanks. I understand, but was hoping Google had changed that. The "Avoid Highways" helps a lot and I was not aware of that.
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  13. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    No problem, avoid highways already helps a lot and sometimes it's all that's required between two points when you want to cover a long distance in a day, it's when you want to really hit small roads that you need to edit things by hand and it becomes a hassle
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  14. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    Excellent Guide! Thanks for your efforts.
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  15. nickmort1

    nickmort1 Adventurer

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    super helpful. Thanks for putting the time in, @MatLax!
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  16. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

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    Excellent! Thanks MatLax
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