How the heck are you this fine day? Today, we are going to take a look at Google Maps. How can I have been doing this demos as long as I have without diving into one of the most useful tools Google gives us? But it’s one of the tools Google Maps 5 Awesome Tips I think we all take for granted. We just expect Google Maps to be there and to work for us. We go in, and we use it,
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but we just don’t dive in and see exactly what cool features Google has added. And trust me, Google has added some very cool features. Prepare to see them today on DottoTech. Before we dive into Google Maps, a quick shout out to all of our Patreon supporters. DottoTech is a community-funded site. Instead of having corporate sponsors, our patrons, our viewers step up to the plate and sponsor us through the site, Patreon.
It is crowdfunding, and for as little as a dollar a month, they ensure that DottoTech continues to be able to provide great content.
So if you don’t know what that’s all about, I encourage you to drop by our Patreon page. Thank you so much. Let’s dive into Google Maps now and take a look. Now Google Maps is one of those apps where I think most of us just use kind of the top 5%. Make sure we can get directions to go where we’re going, and we haven’t looked at the depth that Google has added to Google Maps. Google has been working so hard on making Google Maps a very, very rich environment and there are so many new features and so many additional features.
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I think we’d better take a look at them. So I’m going to look at five of them today. Some of them are just cool, and some of them are super useful. Let’s start with the just cool side. Street View which is Google’s street-level view, they’ve been since 2007 taking photos of all of our streets, sometimes somewhat controversially, but they’ve been taking pictures of all of the streets, and now they’ve done that cycle several times. They’ve installed a Way Back machine that allows us to go and look at what the street looked like years before.
Now we can go back about seven or eight years now, back to 2007 is when they started in my area. if you haven’t used Street View before, all you do is grab the little guy, the little stick man from the tool bar from the tool menu and you drag them over to whatever area you want to look at. I was thinking, what it would show well?
What would show you how the city has evolved? I live in Vancouver, and we had the Olympics in 2010. So 2007 we were still in construction. We were getting ready for the Olympics, and one of the things that we did put in place was a Sky Train, an elevated rail and it goes underground to get people from the airport, which is here in Richmond, downtown in Vancouver which is here. Right about here, there’s this Sky Train station.
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You can see it right there. View of that because it was under construction at that point. This is what it looks like today. If we go down and go to that Station, there’s a bus loop right here, and this takes the train just as you enter Vancouver.
But if we take a look here on the left-hand side just in the menu, they’ve got this little clock which is a calendar icon which allows you to go back to 2007. Now there have been four different photos or different street views of this location and the first one indeed look; they were under construction at that time. This is fantastic. Look, just the pillars were in place, and they’ve just begun getting ready to put in the station. Fast-forward two years later to April 2009, just before the Olympics themselves started a couple of months before, and they’re in their final stages of construction.
The next one 2011, they’ve better be finished by now. Yes, indeed they are. It’s open for business.
People are happy. They’ve even got little bits of artwork happening there. Then this is how it looks today as we’ve started with. Isn’t that fun? So you can go in and you can take a look at different locations within your city where changes have happened over the years. This is great now with 8 years of data. In 20 or 30 years, to be able to go back in different locations and see all of the different construction and the various changes to your environment. This is awesome. I don’t know all the practical purposes for it yet, and I’m sure some will be legal, unfortunately.
But just to be cool, I love this feature. Let’s take a look at some of the more practical features now of Google Maps. One of the most convenient is, of course, finding resources. So let’s just stay in the same area here. We’ll stay on the same map.
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A lot of people don’t know you can just go to the search field and search for things. You don’t even have to search for an address or anything but let’s say I’ve just blown my muffler. All of a sudden you get that terrible sound in your car, the muffler. This is a great way to find local muffler shops. I just type in ‘muffler’ and then do a quick search and it does a search within the map and up will come little indicators. There it is, Budget Brake and Mufflers right there.
There’s another place here. There’s Big O tires here. All of these different hotspots represent different places that relate to the term muffler.
If I refine the term to ‘muffler shop’ does it change? It doesn’t change too much. But you can see how you can type in and you can find local services just by typing in a general category. Now this local search works really well and if you zoom in more—this is one of the things that I love—it’s just doing what’s in your area and what’s around. Let’s say you’re bored or you’ve just moved into a new city, or you’re visiting a city, and you’re staying at a hotel, and you don’t know what’s around, you don’t want to go and just walk in the streets, if you just type in an asterisk will have a little dot with every single business.
Every single point of interest where you are is going to be identified by a little red dot. You can zoom in on them and if you click on anyone, you can of course get information about what it is. That is a great way to just kind of see what’s happening in your area. Here we go. Right over here. As we get more granular, as we get more detail, we get to see all of the things that are happening.
So this is a way to see exactly what’s happening. Of course, the way that we use Google Maps the most is to get directions to go from one place to another but again, we seldom dive in to see exactly how rich those directions are. Let me give you an example.
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Let’s say that we’re spending the day at the Pacific National Exhibition, our fair here in Vancouver, but we’re going to spend the evening at the theatre. We’re going to a Rep theater company here in Vancouver and see Summer Stock Theatre. You put on your starting and ending point. So your opening point is Pacific National Exhibition. Our ending point will be Theatre Under the Stars. Now one cool thing to notice here is these searches that we’re creating right now are saved with our Google Account which is very cool because it means that when we go into our mobile devices later, these same searches will be there on our mobile device,
which I love the idea of. It’s very cool. Anyway, here we go. What it does is it gives us our different routing options, and it tells us driving it will take about 23 minutes, 19 minutes without traffic and it gives us the general routing. But watch what happens if we choose instead of driving if we choose the transit option.
I love this. Now it gives us the buses, how long it should take us, where we have to talk, which bus numbers we have to take and what their schedule is. So it provides s all the public transit information to follow our route. If we need to walk, it gives us the best walking directions, including the kind of a shortcut that you wouldn’t normally take while you were driving. It also has biking directions. Now this is where we start the different layers of information that Google gives us in the maps. Vancouver has biking routes, safe lanes for bikes to transit the city.
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Look, it gives us the directions there. It’s taken a very different route, a little bit longer route than biking but way safer in the appropriate route for bikes to take, far more comfortable and as I say safe for bikers. It’s going to take you 38 minutes to ride your bike from one to the next, and it’s 10 and a half kilometers. Isn’t that amazing?
These extra silos and these extra layers of information are what makes Google Maps so exciting. Every time they add another layer of information on top of a map, it becomes something that we can gain access to, we can use, we can search, and we can take advantage of. So I encourage you to dive a little deeper into Google Maps the next time that you use it.