Monday, October 24, 2011

Uses for Google Maps

Top 10 Cool Uses for Google Maps
October 23rd, 2011
Years ago, maps were just a way to get from Point A to Point B. Thanks to Google maps, you can now get a three dimensional portrait of where you’re headed before you get there, as well as pointers on where to get the cheapest gas and free graphic enhancements for your website.

10. Cheap Gas
For those who own a car, finding the cheapest gas isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity, especially if you’re driving in an unfamiliar city or area. Google will compare the gas stations nearest to your GPS locale and list prices (in addition to providing you with directions on how to get there).

9. Click Between Modes of Transport
What’s the best way to get to your destination? Now you can preview how to walk, drive, or take public transit to your new destination. While Google maps only lists public forms of transit (private train services, like Amtrak, don’t make the cut) it’s an indispensable tool for getting around dense urban centers. Even cross-country trips can be planned using bus services. The ease with which you can quickly jump from one form of transport to another makes it a simple matter to plan your trip efficiently. In cities like New York, Google Maps lists timetables for the next arriving subway and bus so you won’t try and take a midnight ride on a shuttered transportation system. It’s international, too.

8. Apartment Search
The price is right and the pictures look gorgeous—so where is this new apartment of your dreams? Google maps now allows you to instantly view listings from rental services such as Craigslist on a map so you know exactly what you’re getting into (and how much safety equipment to bring). With street view, you can verify that the sparkling photos are in fact current, and not stock footage from twenty years ago. The results can occasionally be confusing when you plug in the address—always make sure you include the full details, including the city and zip code if you have it.

7. Determine the Center Point Between Two Locations
It’s excellent to have a break point, especially on long journeys. Google Maps allows you to plot the exact center between two locations. Maybe you want to divide your trip in half, or perhaps you and a far-flung friend are trying to find a restaurant that is equidistant to each of your homes. In any event, it only takes Google maps a second to locate the center.

8. Search for Businesses by Type
Say you’re in a hurry to find a public notary, but you don’t know your way around town. All you have to do is plug “public notary” into the Google business search feature and it will automatically display the location of all the public notaries within a radius of your current location. Trying to find museums while on a pleasure trip? It’s easy to view all of the local businesses and get instant directions to them.

7. Calculate Cab Fare
It’s late, you’re tired, and you have twenty dollars in your pocket. Is that enough for cab fare? You can let Google calculate how much it will cost to get you home via cab before you call up the company. This service is best for urban areas. Trying to calculate a cab fare across hundreds of miles can be amusing, but the degree of accuracy may vary considerably.

6. Create Your Own Maps
Perhaps you’ve found the perfect route through the city that lets you get from your apartment to your office in record time, or you’ve found a coffee shop that you absolutely love and want to visit again. Google lets you create your own custom maps with a site called Wayfaring. You can describe each location, add photos, and any thoughts you may have about the experience. There are a few preliminary steps that may seem daunting to new users, but once you’ve been through the registration process, creating maps is fun.

5. Street View
Ever wondered what a random street in Australia looks like? Now you can zoom along the boulevard of your choice by clicking on Google’s “street view” feature. It offers a 360-degree horizontal view of most places on earth. The service is so popular that there are even collections of “weirdest Street View” photos online.

4. Use it As Pedometer
Doctors agree: it’s good to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Walking at least a mile a day will keep you in excellent shape, but how do you keep track of how far you have gone? Google Maps can be turned into a pedometer, which allows you to keep fit while simultaneously knowing exactly where you are.

3. Add Maps Onto Your Website
Google makes it incredibly easy to place a live map of your business or location onto a website. Visitors can quickly click on the map and get custom directions from their location, which is especially useful if your business is hard to find.

2. Avoid Heavy Traffic
All roads may lead to Rome, but which one has the least traffic? In cities such as Los Angeles, Google maps has customized its directions to allow you to preview several different routes that list possible traffic delays. It is also possible to sync up Google maps with live traffic reporting apps and get a real time estimate of each route based on current traffic conditions.

1. Email Your Location to Others
You’ve found a great restaurant and now you want your friends to join you, but you’re not sure quite where you are. With Google maps, you can email them your location by clicking on your current GPS location.

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