When we realise we can easily call Google Maps the compass of the modern age, it reminds us just how vital it has become. However, few people understand the power of Maps.

In the ever-evolving realm of technology, Google Maps stands as a beacon of navigational prowess, seamlessly guiding users through the intricacies of the physical world. As we venture into 2023, Google Maps continues to refine its features, offering many benefits that enhance our ability to explore, navigate, and connect.

This article delves into the multifaceted world of Google Maps, unveiling its latest features and the remarkable advantages they offer users worldwide. Embark on a journey of discovery as we unravel the transformative power of Google Maps in 2023.

Read on to go behind the scenes…and discover some essential features you could be missing on!

What Is Google Maps? How Does Google Maps Know About Traffic?

What Is Google Maps?

Metaphorically, Google Maps is our guardian angel on the road. But a more ‘real world’ explanation would be that Google Maps is a desktop and mobile application that provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites around the world.

Featured image for Google maps: make it work harder for you article

It is, simply, an alternative for the conventional road maps.

“In addition to conventional road maps, Google Maps offers aerial and satellite views of many places. In some cities, it offers street views comprising photographs taken from vehicles,” according to TechTarget.

The application follows Google’s vision to build a connected world where information access is at the click of a button.

What Does IT Offer?

  • Road Planner: A road planner which offers directions to drivers, bikers, and walkers who take a trip from one destination to another.
  • Save Your Places: You can save your most visited places, your home and work locations, or destinations you want to go to in the future and share them with others.
  • Traffic Reports: Real time traffic reports while suggesting the fastest route to reach a destination.
  • Rerouting: Automatic re-routes based on changes during the trip to avoid traffic jams.
  • Your Local Guide: Giving directions to local businesses, restaurants, and important locations such as airports, subway stations, etc.
  • Look Inside Local Businesses: With Google Business View, you can view the interior of any local business registered on Maps.
  • Reviews & Photos: You can check reviews and photos from people who have visited the place before, know the hustle hours for that place, and you can even reserve a table at your favorite restaurant on the application.
  • Realistic View of Your Surroundings: With Google Street View, you can check the real view surrounding any of your destinations.
hand holding phone with Google map on screen showing local SEO
SEO can help small businesses find success in their local area. Image credit: Henry Perks via Unsplash

How Does IT Work?

A common question when introducing the app is: how does Google Maps obtain this data? In other words, how does it work? Google Maps was built to help make navigation smoother and easier. It does that through organizing a massive collection of geospatial data and making it useful and accessible to everyone.

How Does Google Maps Get Real-Time Traffic Updates?

If you have a smartphone, an Android or an iPhone, with Google Maps installed and the location service enabled, then your phone is anonymously sending real time data about your location to Google. Google uses this information to figure out the number of cars on the road and how fast they are moving.

The accuracy of this data is mainly dependent on the number of people using the app. The higher the number of users is, the more accurate the traffic data will be.


In addition, Google also gets reports from another app called Waze. Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Google bought it in 2013 to improve the user’s experience on Google Maps. Waze receives data from a community of volunteers and from local departments of transportation across the globe.

Furthermore, Google Maps saves the history of traffic patterns across specific roads. That is how it can predict how traffic will be like at a specific time.


Even though Google is one of the largest corporations in the world, it’s still a private corporation. Therefore, Google created a Base Map Partner Program to allow partnership with credible organizations which have access to mapping data and are willing to share it with Maps.

For example, in the United States, US Geological Survey, Forest Service, and city and state councils provide mapping information to Google. This information covers freeways, remote lanes, national parks, forests, bike paths, and parcel boundaries. Everywhere around the world, Google partners share data with Google to enhance the intricate service which Google Maps offers to make navigation smoother.

Satellite Imagery on Google Earth

Google earth is a part of Google Maps. The program exhibits a 3D representation of Earth based on satellite imagery, aerial photography, and GIS data. Satellite imagery are images of Earth and other planets collected from specific satellites intended for non-military uses.

These imaging satellites are operated by governments and businesses around the world which license Google Maps to use their collected images. Google Earth uses the same way to show imagery of Google Sky, Google Mars, and Google Moon allowing users to take out-of-the-world tours.

Unveiling The Essential Features

Google Maps has emerged as an indispensable tool for navigating the world, empowering users with a comprehensive suite of features that streamline travel and exploration. Let’s delve into the core capabilities that make Google Maps a trusted companion for individuals and businesses alike.

1. Seamless Directions: Your Personal Navigator

At the heart of Google Maps lies its unparalleled ability to provide precise directions, transforming even the most unfamiliar routes into manageable journeys. With a simple tap or voice command, users can effortlessly obtain step-by-step instructions tailored to their chosen mode of transportation, be it driving, cycling, walking, or using public transit.

Google Maps meticulously factors in real-time traffic conditions, suggesting alternative routes to avoid congestion and delays. It even considers factors like road closures, construction zones, and weather conditions, ensuring that users reach their destinations efficiently and safely.

2. Satellite and Street View: A Window to the World

Google Maps goes beyond mere directions, offering users a captivating glimpse into the world around them. With Satellite View, users can soar above the landscape, gaining a bird’s-eye perspective on cities, landmarks, and natural wonders. Street View, on the other hand, takes users on a virtual stroll through the streets, allowing them to explore destinations in immersive detail.

These visual tools prove invaluable for planning trips, scouting locations, and gaining a deeper understanding of unfamiliar environments. Whether researching a vacation spot or virtually touring a potential apartment, Google Maps’ immersive views provide a unique window to the world.

3. Real-time Traffic Data: Beating the Congestion

Navigating urban landscapes can be a daunting task, often plagued by traffic congestion and delays. Google Maps addresses this challenge by providing real-time traffic data, ensuring users make informed decisions about their routes.

With color-coded overlays on the map, users can easily identify areas of heavy traffic, allowing them to plan their journeys accordingly. Google Maps also offers alternative routes and estimated travel times, empowering users to avoid congestion and reach their destinations on time.

4. Location Sharing: Staying Connected

In today’s interconnected world, staying in touch with loved ones is paramount. Google Maps simplifies this process by enabling users to share their real-time location with friends, family, and colleagues.

With this feature, users can provide others with a clear picture of their whereabouts, offering peace of mind and ensuring timely meetups. Whether sharing a travel itinerary or letting family know your estimated arrival time, Google Maps facilitates seamless communication and connection.

5. Explore and Discover: Unveiling Hidden Gems

Google Maps extends beyond mere navigation, serving as a gateway to exploration and discovery. The platform’s rich database of businesses, attractions, and events offers a wealth of information to help users uncover hidden gems and plan enriching experiences.

Whether seeking local recommendations, discovering historical landmarks, or planning a weekend getaway, Google Maps provides a comprehensive guide to the world’s treasures. Users can filter their search based on interests, preferences, and ratings, ensuring they find experiences that align with their unique tastes.

These essential features lay the foundation for Google Maps’ transformative power, empowering users to navigate with ease, stay connected, and explore the world with newfound confidence. As Google Maps continues to evolve, its capabilities will undoubtedly expand, further enhancing its role as an indispensable tool for individuals and businesses alike.

How Do Google Street View and Google Business View Work?

Google Street View displays panoramic photos, also known as 360 photos, for several cities and countries. 

While in some areas, Google Street View almost has full coverage, in other areas it may have restricted coverage. That depends on the agreements between Google and the governments. After all, 55% of UK adults are regularly using Google Street View which shows the popularity of the app.

Google draws in these photos from two sources: users uploading 360 photos and pictures taken by Google’s embedded cars, trekkers, tricycle, walkers, or even underwater apparatus. Mostly, Google’s self-driving cars which have cameras roam cities recording everything they see.

For Business View, the data is collected from the business itself or shared by visitors.

Google Trusted Photographer Program

When it comes to 360 photos uploaded by businesses on either Street View or Business View, Google has created its Trusted Photographer Program. The program is designed to ensure that the photos uploaded are of high quality and look ridiculously good.

Local businesses can hire a professional photographer certified from Google to shoot high resolution virtual tours and 360 photos to have a great look on Google Maps.

How Does Google Maps Know Your Location?

For privacy reasons, many people feel concerned about the fact that Google can trace your location anywhere. As mentioned earlier, your smartphone shares your location with Google anonymously. Still, the question remains; how does Google Maps know your location? Using GPS.

The explanation of how GPS really works is a bit complicated, but let’s give it a try. Almost 20,000 kilometers above our head, lie 24 orbiting satellites, each tracking time using an atomic clock. An atomic clock is an extremely accurate clock through which we can identify time. For the smartphone to determine where you are, it needs to measure the distance between itself and the satellite.

The satellites constantly broadcast radio signals travelling at the speed of light from space to your phone. The phone records the signals’ arrival time and uses it to calculate the distance to the satellite using the formula: Distance is equal to the speed of light multiplied by the time travelled by the signals. For this equation to be accurate, the time measured must be precise, that is why we use atomic clocks for satellites.

How does GPS work?
GPS is a navigation system made up of numerous orbiting satellites. Credit: spymonde.com

To read more about tracking your location with a phone number, click here.

How Can You Benefit from Google Maps?

For Individuals

Apart from the complicated account of how Google Maps work, using the application is anything but complicated. For individuals, using Google Maps will simply make your path on the road ten times easier. Firstly, you will never get lost, as long as you have a good Internet connection.

Also, you will always reach your destination earlier by taking the fastest route. Thirdly, you can always know how a place looks like; inside and outside, what people think of that place, and what you should expect before you go. You can also share your experience or customize your map and become part of the global Google Maps community.

Plus, you can enjoy watching the most exotic places of the world in 360 photos from your couch. Fans of astronomy can even  watch the moon, the sky, or Mars.

For Businesses

For businesses owners, they share all the same benefits, and they can embed Google Maps at the heart of their marketing strategy. Google Maps is a powerful marketing tool. A strong presence on the app gives your business a transparent and authoritative image.

For businesses with an appealing physical space, a virtual tour on Google Maps could skyrocket the number of your visitors. Virtual tours and 360 photos make Google users trust you and your location before they even visit.

google maps navigation
Business owners who are using Google Maps Marketing are trying not only to rank higher on Google Maps, but also to get a high placement in the local business results listing.
Credit: noble.org

Google Maps’ Hidden Gems: Tips and Tricks for Enhanced Exploration

Google Maps has become an indispensable tool for navigating the world, offering a plethora of features that enhance exploration and travel. However, there are hidden gems within the platform that can further elevate your Google Maps experience. Let’s delve into a collection of tips and tricks designed to unlock the full potential of Google Maps and transform you into a savvy user.

1. Craft Your Personalized Maps: Tailoring Google Maps to Your Needs

Google Maps empowers you to create custom maps tailored to your specific needs and preferences. Whether planning a road trip, organizing a group outing, or highlighting your favorite local spots, custom maps provide a versatile tool for organizing information and sharing it with others.

To create a custom map, simply click the “Create Map” button on the Google Maps website. From there, you can add markers, draw lines, and personalize the map with a title and description. Share your custom maps with friends, family, or colleagues to ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Uncover Hidden Gems: Discovering Places Along Your Route

Google Maps doesn’t just get you from point A to point B; it also helps you discover hidden gems along the way. With the “Places Along Route” feature, you can easily identify interesting spots, restaurants, and attractions that fall within your itinerary.

To utilize this feature, simply enter your destination and tap the three dots in the top right corner of the screen. Select “Add Stop” and then “Places Along Route.” Google Maps will automatically suggest relevant locations based on your preferences and the distance along your route.

3. Embrace Incognito Mode: Navigating with Privacy

Google Maps provides an incognito mode to safeguard your privacy while browsing and searching for locations. When incognito mode is enabled, your search history and location data are not saved, ensuring your privacy remains intact.

To activate incognito mode, tap your profile picture in the top right corner of the screen and select “Turn on incognito mode.” A new incognito window will open, allowing you to browse and search without leaving a trace.

4. Download Offline Maps: Navigating Without an Internet Connection

Traveling to an area with limited or no internet connectivity? Google Maps has you covered with offline maps. Downloading offline maps ensures you can continue navigating even when you’re offline, providing peace of mind and uninterrupted exploration.

To download an offline map, zoom in to the desired area and tap the three dots in the top right corner of the screen. Select “Offline areas” and then “Download.” Choose the area you want to download and wait for the process to complete.

5. Utilize Street View: Exploring Destinations Virtually

Google Maps Street View feature offers an immersive virtual experience, allowing you to explore destinations before you even set foot there. Stroll through city streets, navigate through museums, and get a feel for the ambiance of a neighborhood, all from the comfort of your device.

To access Street View, simply tap and drag the orange pegman icon onto the location you want to explore. A 360-degree view will appear, allowing you to virtually navigate the area.

FAQs: Unraveling Commonly Asked Questions

With its vast array of features and functionalities, Google Maps has become an indispensable tool for navigating the world. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or an occasional explorer, Google Maps offers a wealth of options to enhance your journeys and experiences. To address frequently encountered questions and provide clarity on commonly used features, we’ve compiled a comprehensive FAQ section that delves into the realms of Google Maps.

1. Q: How do I get directions on Google Maps?

A: Google Maps offers seamless directions for various modes of transportation, including driving, cycling, walking, and public transit. To obtain directions, simply enter your starting point and destination in the search bar. Google Maps will display the most efficient route, considering real-time traffic conditions and road closures.

2. Q: What is Satellite View and how do I use it?

A: Satellite View provides a bird’s-eye perspective of the world, allowing users to explore cities, landmarks, and natural wonders from a distance. To access Satellite View, simply click the “Satellite” icon in the top right corner of the map.

3. Q: How can I use Street View to explore a location?

A: Street View offers an immersive virtual stroll through the streets of various locations. To access Street View, simply click the “Street View” icon in the map or drop a peg in a specific location. You can then navigate through the streets using the on-screen controls.

4. Q: How can I avoid traffic congestion using Google Maps?

A: Google Maps provides real-time traffic data, enabling users to make informed decisions about their routes and avoid congestion. Color-coded overlays on the map indicate areas of heavy traffic. Google Maps also suggests alternative routes and estimated travel times to help users bypass congestion and reach their destinations efficiently.

5. Q: How can I share my real-time location with others using Google Maps?

A: To share your real-time location with friends, family, or colleagues, click on your profile picture in the top right corner of the map, select “Location sharing,” and choose the people you want to share with. They will receive a link that will show your real-time location on a map.

6. Q: How can I discover hidden gems and local recommendations using Google Maps?

A: Google Maps offers a wealth of information about businesses, attractions, and events, empowering users to uncover hidden gems and plan enriching experiences. Simply search for the type of establishment or attraction you’re interested in, filter by ratings and reviews, and explore the options that align with your preferences.

Conclusion: Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape with Google Maps

Google Maps has revolutionized the way we navigate the world, providing an indispensable tool for exploration, travel, and everyday life. Its comprehensive suite of features, from seamless directions to immersive Street View, empowers users to discover new places, connect with loved ones, and make informed decisions about their journeys.

As we venture into the future, Google Maps continues to evolve, embracing technological advancements and incorporating user feedback to enhance its capabilities. Its commitment to innovation and user-centric design ensures that Google Maps will remain at the forefront of navigation, providing a transformative experience for individuals and businesses alike.

With its ever-expanding capabilities, Google Maps invites us to explore the world with newfound confidence, transforming every journey into an opportunity for discovery and connection. Embrace the power of Google Maps and embark on a voyage of limitless exploration.

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