Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - ESCAPE | TRAVEL WISDOM - ROS BREN­NAN

Of all the new and un­fa­mil­iar things you no­tice about a city, per­haps what gets over­looked most is its to­pog­ra­phy – how its neigh­bour­hoods are or­gan­ised, the shape of the city grid and the width of the streets. From Bos­ton’s maze of streets (so con­fus­ing they are thought to have evolved from cow paths) to Ber­lin’s graf­fi­tied boule­vards named af­ter po­ets and politi­cians, a city’s struc­ture has a pro­found im­pact on the way we ex­pe­ri­ence it.

Luck­ily, there’s an app that ag­gre­gates all this in­for­ma­tion for us.

With more than one bil­lion monthly users world­wide, Google Maps has be­come syn­ony­mous with get­ting from A to B. But it of­fers so much more than that for trav­ellers, in­clud­ing a range of new fea­tures that help you plan a hol­i­day on the go.


A cou­ple of years ago, af­ter an un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt at find­ing “New York’s best Pho” in Bush­wick, Brook­lyn, my ho­tel concierge gave me this game-chang­ing gem of wis­dom: you can pre-down­loaded maps to use off­line. Ac­cess­ing these is now my first port of call at the air­port, so they’re ready to use as soon as I land.

Sim­ply search for any ad­dress (or just the name of a city or re­gion), swipe up from the bot­tom to ob­tain more in­for­ma­tion, and tap the down­load but­ton.

They will be stored in “off­line maps” in the main menu. As nor­mal, use the blue GPS icon to nav­i­gate, which will work when you’re off­line or in air­plane mode.


Trav­ellers will soon be able to start nav­i­gat­ing by us­ing aug­mented re­al­ity, which es­sen­tially is able to recre­ate the street in front of you on your phone.

“You in­stantly know where you are,” Google vice-pres­i­dent Aparna Chen­napra­gada said at the an­nounce­ment in May 2018. “No fuss­ing with the phone. The street names and the di­rec­tions are right there in front of you.”

The user’s path will be lit with ar­rows that flash green when you need to change di­rec­tion. It also shows you nearby places, such as bars and restau­rants. Keep your eyes peeled for the of­fi­cial re­lease date from Google HQ in the com­ing months (and be sure to keep the app up to date).


Also hot off the press is the “ex­plore” up­date, ac­ces­si­ble via an icon at the bot­tom left of the home page. This opens up a new sec­tion ded­i­cated to help­ing you browse and lo­cate the best food, night-life, en­ter­tain­ment and ser­vices close to you.

The best part is the cu­rated “best of ” lists, rec­om­mended by lo­cal users. Right now, near my co-work­ing space in the hip­ster Ber­lin sub­urb of AltTrep­tow, I can see the fol­low­ing lists: Craft Beer in Neukolln, Drinks & DJ Sets and Trendy Kreuzberg Cafes.

Look out Time Out, it ap­pears that Google Maps could be mov­ing in on your ter­ri­tory.


Soon to be rolled out across iOS and An­droid is the “For Me” fea­ture, es­sen­tially like a so­cial me­dia feed of sug­gested restau­rants, bars and tips, based on your pre­vi­ous re­views and brows­ing habits.

A per­fect fea­ture for time-poor trav­ellers; the feed rec­om­mends places which are lo­cal, of qual­ity and, most im­por­tantly, in line with your tastes. What will they think of next?


Google Maps’ lat­est fea­tures take you straight to where you want to go. Is­land of Capri, any­one?

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