Use Google Maps to find cheap gas, COVID-19 dates and more

Fun fact: Google Maps is 17 years old! If it were human, it would have had its driver’s license long ago. And it still grows up: A new round of updates have added to its usefulness.

I routinely use Google Maps because I couldn’t find my way out of a wet paper bag. Here are some of my favorite time-saving features.

Share your estimated time of arrival

My wife, thank God, wants to know that I’ve arrived safely at a destination. The location doesn’t matter: Grocery store, pickup from school, to the pub and back.

Trouble is, I’m absent-minded and routinely forget to text her once I’ve done it. On the plus side, ironically I can’t find where I’m going without with Google Maps, that is its location sharing feature is a great way to find out where I’m going while also keeping my wife in the loop.


Just tap your face in the app and select the “Location Sharing” option. From there you can choose how long you want to share your location and who you want to share it with.

As a bonus, if I absentmindedly forget to share my location, my wife can ask for my location by opening her own Google Maps app, tapping on her photo, then “location sharing” and requesting my location from me.

Quickly find a restaurant you really like

I use Google Maps to constantly search for restaurants, but I’ll admit I never noticed this feature until recently.

If you’re looking for nearby restaurants – just type “restaurants near me” into the Google Maps search bar – each result shows a percentage match to the right of the rating, just below the restaurant name. Google uses previous visits to similar restaurants, personalized search information, and other data to provide a rating of how much you might like a particular place.


Additionally, you can tap Edit Food & Drink Preferences to ensure future searches are even more accurate. Finding a great place to eat just got much, much faster.

Tell your watch to take you home

I often get lost, and let me tell you: there’s nothing pleasant about realizing you have no idea where you are and realizing that you pull your phone out of your pocket, unlock it, and open Google Maps need to find your way home.

The good news is that you can avoid all of this if you have a smartwatch. If you (like me) have a watch that uses Google’s Wear OS, you can press and hold the power button to bring up the Google Assistant. Then just say “Navigate home” which will open Google Maps on the watch and display turn-by-turn directions.


Apple Watch users can add a new Take Me Home complication to their watch face. Just tap on it and you’re on your way. Note that this feature may not be live for some users yet, but Google says it will be available “in a few weeks” so keep an eye out for it.

Cheaper gas, faster

Gas prices are going crazy, but there are still some deals out there. To see gas prices for nearby gas stations, search for “gas” and you will see all gas stations nearby and their prices.


I also find it helpful to tap the View List icon in the bottom-right corner of the map to see a list of nearby gas stations by distance and price. It makes it easier to quickly search for the best prices.

Get COVID-19 numbers fast

If you want to double-check the COVID-19 numbers to make sure your destination is reasonably safe, Google Maps has a handy tool COVID-19 info layer You can use.

In your destination’s search results, click the “Levels” button – it looks like two isometrically stacked squares in the top-right corner of the map – and select “COVID-19 Info” in the “Map Details” section.


You can then see 7-day trends and averages by county. Zoom out on the map to see nearby counties and see how they’re doing. It’s a good way to quickly check dates before traveling to a new location. Use Google Maps to find cheap gas, COVID-19 dates and more


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