Using Your Smart Phone to Find Your Way

 Traveller Essentials!

If ever we are allowed to travel internationally again you will need to be able to find your way in places you have not visited before. So you need a local map. The easiest way is to use your smart phone to find your way. You will need to buy a local SIM card so you don’t have excessive data charges from your home phone service provider but after that its all free.

If you own a smartphone then you have maps software built in. And when you end up not knowing which way to turn in a city you are not familiar with you need your smartphone! Although the iPhone comes with Apple Maps built in, it’s worth downloading Google Maps from the App store. Just search for Google and select Maps

Why Google Maps?

The reason you need Google Maps is because I’ve found some cities in the world where Apple doesn’t give you public transport information. So if you want to use public transport then you need Google’s help. In addition, if you tell Google maps to take you to “the port” while you are in Naples in Italy. It knows the place you want is Stazione Maritima. Apple Maps may need a little more specific help to find the same place. I must admit I prefer Apple Maps because it’s easier to use and it works well with Siri but I use Google mostly when I’m travelling overseas.

Open Google Maps

When you open Google Maps the current version looks like this…
Of course, this is near my place and your map will show your place, as a blue dot in the centre of the map.

There is a search bar at the top. If you touch the bar it should bring up a keyboard so you can type in any address you want to reach. You can put in most places in the world, if that’s what you want to do. But as a start, I suggest you type in a local address you can walk to. That way  you can get a feel of what happens as you move along.  Note that while you type the address in the search bar, Google tries to guess where you’re going as you type. As soon as it has guessed correctly, just touch the right answer in the list and it will type the rest of the address for you.

In addition there is a microphone symbol in the search bar, so if you press that and speak an address, Google will try and match what you are saying. You never know, it might work for you! You may need to give permission for Google Maps to use the microphone.

Searching for where to go.

I put in 31 Panache Street – that’s the street behind me, it puts a red pin on the location. So give it a try. Type in a local address into your search bar. You need to get a feel for how to use the maps when you are walking before you drive somewhere.

If Google Street view is available a picture of the destination will appear in the bottom. You can touch it to make it bigger or ignore it. Have a play, you cant go too far wrong!

The Buttons.

On the right hand side towards the bottom of the screen, there are two buttons. The top one always looks the same – it’s a circle with an arrow in the middle. Pressing that button gives you a map of your current surrounding area, with a blue dot to show where it thinks you are. If you get lost anytime – just press that button and it will show you where you are on the map. This can be a lifesaver when you are lost in some country overseas and don’t know which way to go next.  If your phone has a data connection, then it will work.

The second button is the “take me there” button. The image in the centre may change from time to time. It starts off as an arrow but when an address is entered. Pressing the button will bring up a menu at the bottom. The left hand side button is “Directions”. You won’t be surprised to learn that means give me directions to here I’m going. When you press it, you can choose to go by car, public transport, walk, Uber or bike.  it will have an image of a train, a person or two anda car depending on the last choice you made. As you can see here if I touch the directions button the screen changes to something like this…

On the top under the address I want to reach, is a bar that slides to the right and left. This is where you select how you are going to get there. You can change that by selecting the person walking, the car (for driving) or the train symbol for public transport. You simply touch any symbol you can see, then slide left or right to get to the correct symbol. Then you touch that symbol that best describes how you want to get there.

Choosing to Walk.

I have chosen to walk, so as you can see, it’s giving me two possible routes to walk.  Sometimes you get one possibility and sometimes I’ve seen as many as three possibilities. If I choose the blue dotted line,  it will take 18 minutes to walk there.  I can choose the grey one which will take another 5 minutes. You can also see on the top of my screen there is a man with his hand up. That’s an Uber symbol and they are suggesting an Uber driver can get me there in 4 minutes.

Of course Google maps only knows about streets around here. So if there are walking tracks I know about, I can shorten the trip even more.

Starting the Navigation

After choosing the address I want to go to, and how I’m going to get there, all I need to do is start the navigation system.  Pressing the bottom “Start” button will start the trip and it will give me spoken instructions as I proceed to walk or drive. I’ve used  the public transport quite a bit on busses in Sydney because it showed me how far I was from the stop where I needed to get off. I watched the blue dot move along the route we were on and as I got near enough to my stop, I pressed the drive stop button in the bus and the drive stopped for me.

Give it a try.

So why not enter an address near you ago for a walk even if its just the end of the street. You can then get used to having it tell you where to go and find out what happens when you get there. You can even take a few wrong turns to see how polite the voice is. It actually never gets tired of telling you the correct way.  With a bit of practice you’ll find you desperately need your smartphone whenever you travel. Not only that, you can go for a walk with your grandkids one day soon and show them how smart you are at using technology.

Of course, if you have an iPhone, you can simply press and hold the home button on your phone until a circle appears  on the bottom, and let the button go. Then say “Take me to 31 Panache Street” . Apple Maps will start, give you instruction on how to get there and take you there. Don’t forget, when you get to the house behind me, give me a wave!

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