Google Maps launched in 2005 and is now the most popular online mapping service in the world.
Many of us log in every day to get directions, take a virtual stroll in Street View and use it as an in-car Sat Nav.
But Google Maps has plenty more to offer with many hidden features which makes the service even more useful.
So, if you’re a Maps fan here’s our pick of the top 5 features you may not know about.
1. GO BACK IN TIME
Google Maps not only features standard maps but also 360-degree panorama images.
This Street View service launched in 2007 and has become a hugely popular feature of Google Maps.
Millions of us use Street View everyday but there’s a feature you may never have seen before.
Street View actually lets you travel back in time.
To take a trip through the ages simply launch Google Maps on your desktop, select a location, then enter Street View mode by dragging the small yellow figure onto the area of the map you want to explore.
When the panorama loads, there should be a window in the top-left with your current location.
Beneath the address, there is a small clock logo and date.
Click on this and a new pop-up with a slider will load showing you how the area has changed over the past eight years.
2. AVOID RIP-OFF DATA ROAMING CHARGES
Google Maps is the perfect companion when heading abroad but viewing a map could end up costing a fortune.
Maps use a lot of data and loading one will mean you’ll be hit by your mobile network’s data roaming charges.
Luckily, you can add any area of the world to your phone to view offline.
Once an area is downloaded you can even access turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about local places.
To download a map on your smartphone simply search the city, county or country, then tap on the name of the place at the bottom of the screen and press download.
You can also tap the three lines in the top left of the screen and hit “Offline Areas” in the menu then press the “+” button.
Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognises you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all.
When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route.
By default, Google will only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.
3. MEASURE ANY DISTANCE AROUND THE PLANET
Ever wondered how long it would take to walk from London to Sydney?
Well now you can as Google Map lets you quickly measure the distance between any two points across the globe.
Simply right click on the map and choose Measure Distance from the dropdown menu.
This places a new point (a white dot with a bold black line) on the map.
Then click on whereabouts in the world you want to measure and the distance between the two points will be calculated.
You can also be move these points around – if you’re planning a long journey – by dragging and dropping the white dots.
A footnote at the bottom of the map shows you the total area and total distance in both Metric and US measurements.
Right-click on the finished map and hit Print to get a paper copy of your new route.
Google will also let you name, or add some notes to the customised map before you send it to the printer.
INSTANTLY SEND DIRECTIONS TO YOUR SMARTPHONE
Google Maps has a neat feature that lets you seamlessly jump between your desktop web browser and your smartphone.
If you’re looking up an address on your desktop and want to fire it over to your phone, you can do so with a few quick clicks.
The trick works on both Android or iOS smartphones – just make sure you’re signed-in with the same Google Account on both the phone and the web browser.
Find the address you need, then hit the Send To Device option on the left-hand side menu.
You’ll get a notification on your phone or tablet about the destination.
From this notification you can choose to either get directions or turn-by-turn navigation to your chosen destination
If you don’t have the Google Maps app installed, or your smartphone isn’t listed in the browser options, you can choose to send the place to your device by email or text message.
DON’T GET STUCK IN TRAFFIC
On the desktop version of Google Maps, you can check real-time traffic data by clicking the Traffic link found in the hamburger menu in top-left corner of the screen.
Once the traffic view loads, you’ll see a network of different colours mapped across the roads to show the conditions.
There should be a new toolbar in the bottom centre. Toggle the option from Live Traffic to Typical Traffic.
You can then pick a day of the week and a time of day to help you work-out the best time to travel and plan accordingly.
It’s like your own personal travel report, for anywhere in the world.
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