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Google Maps can easily replace a standalone windshield-mounted GPS device, especially if you have a data for your phone and you're not visiting another country. I got a prepaid plan with Freedom Mobile that gives me unlimited data, the first 1.5 GB of which is at 4G/LTE speed. Although you can make Google Maps work without data (by downloading routing over WiFi and having off-line maps), data gives it far more on-the-road functionality. For those of us with less than accurate speedometers, Google Maps has the ability to display vehicle speed while navigating.

One handy aspect of GPS devices is the ability to save locations. An Android phone easily uses the contacts associated with a Google account. An iPhone can also use your Google contacts with Google Map searches but it starts up Apple Maps if you select a destination from your iPhone's contacts. Apple Maps does a good job of navigating but doesn't have the ability to minimize data usage with offline maps downloaded over WiFi.

Google Maps has the ability to categorize places and this is done in several ways:

Android App Online via Browser Apple App
[Recent Searches] [Recent Searches] [Recent Searches]

Recent Searches

All your recent searches (in both your desktop computer and phone) appear chronologically in the search bar. I find that it is much handier to figure out where I'm going with the large screen of a desktop computer instead of the miniscule one in my phone, which allows me to better understand the other route options. The search locations appear in the search bar's drop-down list in chronological order and will eventually drop off the list with enough searches. There is no need to save a search location if you're going to start driving right away and don't expect to need it again.

Another super handy feature is that you can also plan a trip using your own custom routing with your home computer. Once you're satisfied with the route, you can then send the route to your phone.

Labeled Places

Besides the default Home and Work locations, you can add others like School or Gym for quick access. I add labels (eg Mom & Dad, Uncle Joe, etc) to addresses of my friends and relatives, which places them in this list rather than having to search for them. This would be handy if you're using Apple CarPlay but the CarPlay app only shows the default labeled places (Home & Work) so you need to use your iPhone to access others. Similarly, Android Auto shows a list of recent searches you would also need to switch back to the phone and/or the Google Maps app to get your other labeled locations.

Android devices also show some labeled contacts (eg, home, work, etc) but I have no idea how Google decides to put them here. You can hide these labeled contacts from appearing in the maps list but there isn't an obvious mechanism to add a contact. Setting a Work location allows the Google to add Commute functionality (bottom middle tab on Android screen). Labeled places are displayed after the Work location in the order of proximity: nearest first.

Saved Places / Lists

Saved Places are for defined place categories, each with its own options. The locations in these lists do not show the label (if you've assigned one to it) so they are better used for places with their own business/location names. If you're adding someone's home address to a saved place, you'll need to remember who lives at that address. Each location includes a note field but this is more of a descriptive function than a name.

Saved Place Category Options My Usage
(downloadable with Google Takeout in CSV format)
Hide on your map
Edit list
Share list
Sharing Options
Places that I visit regularly
Want to Go
(downloadable with Google Takeout in CSV format)
Edit list
Share list
Sharing Options
Places that I would like to visit
Starred Places
(downloadable with Google Takeout in GeoJSON format)
Hide on your map
Edit list
Temporary destinations
New list
• create with +
• appears in the order created
(downloadable with Google Takeout in CSV format)
Hide on your map
Edit list
Share list
Sharing Options
Delete list
Specific types of locations such as:
  • favourite gas stations
  • travel centers

For heavy map users, you can also create pairs of categories such as Restaurants - FAV (ie, favorite restaurants) and Restaurants - WTV (ie, want to visit restaurants) but plan ahead as these will appear in the order created.


Options Actions
Hide/Show on your map toggles whether the location pins appear on your map
Edit list add, change, delete list entries
Share list generates a share link with shortcuts to Facebook and Twitter
Sharing Options Private Only you can see this list
Shared Anyone with the link can see this list
Public Anyone can see this list in places like Google Search and your public profile (eg, Google - My Maps)


Collaborate with friends: Share, suggest, and vote on place to go with group shortlists.


With an Android device, you can "follow" a place to get updates. A business that has set up a Google business profile can be followed, which lets them see your public profile unless you chose to follow them privately. "Unfollow" removes this location from Google Maps. Updates for followed locations will appear in the "For You" tab at the bottom of your Android screen.


Locations identified in your calendar and Gmail.


Places found in your timeline.


Maps that you've created or shared. This feature lets you create a specific route and identify features on that map. You can share your map with as many people as you like or keep it private. You can add, edit, and delete maps from Google My Maps. These maps can be toggled on & off and closed from the main Google Maps slider menu icon.