Ever wanted to plan a trip but didn’t know where to start? so many maps and GPS options to choose from. What if you’re reliant on public transit. How can you plan a trip that includes transit and schedules?
Google Maps may be just what you’re looking for
this article will focus on using Google Maps with iOS to plan a trip using public transit. Starting out with a fly-by view of what you see when you first open the app, and proceeding onto putting in a destination, starting from your current location, and building a route with various options. As we all know, there are always 87 different ways to accomplish a task. Let’s take a look first at the initial screen of Google Maps.
Opening up the app
when you first open the app, you’ll see the following, beginning at the top of the screen:
- “Enter Compass Mode”
- “Scale Bar View”
- “Explore Food and Drinks Near You”
- “Your Contributions”
- “Offline Areas”
- “Query ‘Search Google Maps'”
- “Voice Search”
Note: if you search for a restaurant from within this screen, their menu may be available for perusal.
this gives you such options as signing in with a different Google account, “Your Places” which is akin to your favorites or saved places.
Feeling philanthropic? If you share your knowledge in this section to contribute to local guides for an area, Google will offer you reward points for your effort.
Feeling adventurous? this allows you to explore an area by category with an “Explore Around You” option and then offers different categories such as “Breakfast”, “Coffee”, or “Dinner”.
A helpful option for Google to download a map for an area so you can view it offline if desired. For example: you can choose to search a city such as San Diego and get the maps for that area. Likewise, if you search for a restaurant in a specific place, tap “More” and then you can download that area for offline viewing. For this all to work, you have to be signed into Google Maps.
that explains the accounts portion we looked at earlier.
the offline areas are good for a month, and should you load Google Maps again before that time has expired, it will search for/update the offline areas.
then, you get into the categories of: “Traffic”, “Transit”, “Biking”, “Satellite”, “Terrain”, “Settings”. the last options on this screen are to: “Add a Missing Place”, “Help and Feedback”, and “Terms of Service”.
these modes are what Google Maps will help you navigate by if you choose one before you search and plan your route.
You know those 87 ways I mentioned to get something done? Well, it’s not quite 87, but there are 2 ways to begin planning your trip.
You can use the “Query” button on the main screen of Google Maps to begin a search, or you can use the “directions” button, also located on the main screen to begin your search.
Since, in Google Maps land, all roads lead to helping you get somewhere, let’s use the “directions” button to begin our trip.
the first option, (after the back button), is called “Your Location”. If activated, this allows you to choose your starting point. If you don’t wish to use your current location.
You can also conduct a voice search, choose “Your Location”, “Choose on Map”, or, you’re given options in your most recent searches/history.
at the bottom of the screen, a keyboard is visible, allowing you to type in your starting point if you wish.
On the previous screen, after the “Your Location” area, you can choose to “Swap Start and End Destination”, “Choose Destination”.
then, you have those same categories encountered earlier in the “Menu” section. “Driving, Walking, Transit…” and so on.
If the “Transit” option is selected, then near the bottom of the screen, you will see schedules for lines near your location.
Starting the trip
Activating the “Choose Destination” area allows you to type in a place where you’d like to go. If Google Maps is successful in finding it, you will see the result pop up.
Once you find the place you want to go and you activate it, more options arise.
there’s an “Overflow” menu which has the following options: “Share Directions”, “Route Options” and “Cancel”.
In “Route Options” you can choose your preferred mode of transport such as bus or subway. Or you have options of choosing the “Best Route”, “One with Fewer Transfers”, and one with “Less Walking”.
Activating the “Back” button gets you back to the screen of the destination you chose, and you are then supposed to choose a mode of transport such as transit, biking, or even ride services.
Choosing transit presents you with several routes you can take, depending on your transit system.
You can choose the time you wish to depart at, by default, Maps will choose the time closest to when you are looking at it and making plans.
If you wish to choose a different time, you can activate the button that says the time you can depart at, and you have options for departing at, or arriving at a certain time. After the time button, there’s an “Options” button which gets you to the “Preferred Modes” area that we explored earlier.
After that, you have the various transit options available. You are presented with the time it will take to get to your destination, and when a transit line will arrive at the nearest station, along with the fare.
Choosing a route and activating it provides you with the following options.
It begins with telling you to walk to the nearest station, and a button to show you when a certain line will depart next, called appropriately enough, “next departure times”. You can then see what line to get on, and how long it will take you to reach the destination.
quite handily, it will tell you the stops in between your point of origin, and where you need to disembark the vehicle/train.
At the second station, you have another button for next departure times and when you need to get on the next mode of transit/train, and how long it will take. any last walking instructions are given, along with the time you will arrive at your final destination. You can add this to your calendar which you will find near the bottom of your screen.
Also found near the bottom of your screen, are all the transit agencies involved in your trip.
the Key to a Successful Journey
As you can see, Google Maps is quite useful for planning a trip, no matter the mode of transport you wish to take. You can even book a ride from within the app using Lyft or Uber. In recent times, Google Maps has expanded to show you businesses around you.
got a late-night hankering for tacos? (let’s face it. who doesn’t love tacos at 2 AM, or anytime for that matter)? Google Maps is more than happy to assist you in fulfilling this craving for chicken, cheese, and lettuce all wrapped in a warm soft tortilla.
If someone’s driving the miles away, jamming out to their tunes, Maps can alert them to any traffic they may encounter along their route.
where it really shines, is in helping plan a trip with public transit. You are able to see what lines to get on, you can customize it to help you plan a trip for arriving at a certain time, or leaving at a certain time.
Go forth and roam the world!
Hopefully, with this trek through Google Maps land, you feel more comfortable with the idea of using a mapping app to plan a route. Add to that such awesome apps as BlindSquare and Sendero’s Seeing Eye GPS, and, as the popular saying goes: “The world is your Oyster.”