- Written by Abby Stokes Abby Stokes
Whether you want to find your way to your granddaughter’s ballet class or finally drive cross country, it’s time for you to learn to use the free GPS app on your smartphone or tablet.
Google Maps is an app that offers global mapping with satellite imagery, street maps, and actual traffic conditions as well as route planning for getting from here to there by foot, car, bicycle, and public transportation.
So where a smartphone has improved driving safety is when it’s used for navigation.
With a car phone holder accessory, your smartphone hangs from the rearview mirror or attaches to the dash, letting you be hands-free while it guides you on your way—much better than trying to read an unwieldy map while driving. Visit the store on AskAbbyStokes.com for some choices about car phone holders.
Google Maps vs. Maps
If you have an iPhone, Google Maps may not be preinstalled; iPhones come pre-installed with Maps. They are very similar in purpose and use, but we’re focusing specifically on Google Maps.
Finding Your Way Around
Before we ask Google Maps to provide directions, let’s get used to some of its features. To find yourself, tap on .
The map will then zero in on your current location.
From here, you can pinch or spread the screen to zoom in or out of your location.
The blue dot represents where you are. At the top of the screen is a text box where you type in the address of your destination.
As you type, suggestions for what you seek will start to appear in a list below. If your destination appears, then you can stop typing and tap on it. But be sure that it’s the correct town and state—not just the street. There are a lot of 25 Main Streets out there!
Once you see your destination on the screen, tap on the blue circle in the bottom right. The next screen will allow you to choose whether you’re traveling by car , public transportation , foot , or bicycle .
The next screen gives you a choice of route, if there is a choice. Tap on whichever route you desire, and then tap on the arrow in the blue circle at the bottom right .
The screen will also show the length of the trip and the estimated time of the trip.
Once you’ve tapped on the arrow, you’re on your way. The app will now talk you through the journey, while the map indicates your place en route and alerts you to when and how soon your next turn will be.
Any calls, texts, or emails will be held on the phone until you’ve arrived. So, please don’t be tempted to answer any overtures while you are in transit. Happy trails!
Abby Stokes, author of “Is This Thing On?” A Friendly Guide to Everything Digital for Newbies, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming and its companion website, AskAbbyStokes.com, is the Johnny Appleseed of Technology, singlehandedly helping more than 300,000 people cross the digital divide.