Precaution: Smartphone based GPS navigation may NOT work in remote rural areas unless the map is preloaded into the smartphone.
Many beautiful and famous national parks, national monuments and national wildlife refuges in North America are in remote rural areas where there is no mobile wireless service coverage such that smartphones have no wireless Internet connectivity and will NOT work, and hence, the smartphone based GPS navigator will NOT work in such remote rural areas.
However, Google Maps based GPS navigator on smartphones will work in such remote rural areas if the Google Map for such remote rural area of interest is preloaded into the smartphone while at home or in a hotel where Wi-Fi service is available for such download of Google Map.
The procedure to preload Google Map into a smartphone is described in Section 10 in the following.
In other words, with preloaded Google Map in the smartphone, the Google Maps based GPS navigator on a smartphone will work even through many other functions of smartphone do not work in such remote rural areas.
Therefore, it is very important to preload the Google Map, for a particular area of interest to you, into your smartphone if you plan to drive into an unfamiliar remote rural area. Otherwise, the failure of the smartphone based GPS navigator in such remote rural area may get the user stranded in the unfamiliar remote rural area, especially if it is in a desert, resulting in a life-threatening dangerous situation.
This web page describes the simple one voice command to launch the free GPS navigator on Google Maps in smartphone to guide your driving to your destination. The great advantages of such smarter and free GPS navigator in Google Maps in smartphones over the traditional stand alone GPS navigators are also described.
The Android based smartphones come with free built-in Google Maps and its associated free GPS navigator for users. The Google Maps GPS Navigator in a smartphone is free, very smart and easy to use in many different ways.
On an Android based smartphone, one simple voice command is sufficient to launch the GPS navigator automatically to guide your driving to your destination.
The key reason that Google Maps GPS navigator in a smartphone is so simple and easy to use is that the smartphone is communicating with and is supported by a powerful mainframe computer with huge database in the server through high speed wireless Internet connection. Such high speed wireless Internet connection and the intelligence in the powerful supporting mainframe computer in the server enable the smartphone to shift all the heavy and tedious work load from the user to the mainframe computer to make it as simple as possible for user.
In this simple method, I do not have to spend time and effort to find out the detailed and the precise street address of the destination and to type such detailed address of the destination into the smartphone. I only have to say the names of the destination (e.g., hotel), town and state. That is enough for the supporting mainframe computer to do all the necessary work to find out the detailed and precise street address of the destination and to use it to start the GPS navigation automatically.
The excellent voice recognition technology and Google Assistant App in the Android based smartphone are also great help to make the Voice Command so simple and easy to use.
Other methods to use, additional benefits of and more features of Google Maps GPS navigator are also described.
My friend, Daniel Wang, an iPhone user, told me that Google Maps and its associated GPS Navigator are also available on iPhones.
1. Simple and Easy Way to Use Google Maps GPS Navigator in Smartphones by one Voice Command
1.1. Simple and Easy Way
The Android based smartphones come with free built-in Google Maps and its associated free GPS navigator for the users. The Google Maps GPS Navigator in a smartphone is free, very smart and easy to use in many different ways. This section 1.1 describes a simple, easy and fast way to use Google Maps GPS navigator by using one Voice Command.
On an Android based smartphone, a simple voice command is sufficient to launch the GPS navigator automatically to guide your driving to your destination by the following simple steps:
1.1.A: In case if my smartphone is not turned on yet, I turn on my Android based smartphone first.
1.1.B: I say "O.K. Google" which is a Google/Android specific voice command to get the attention of the Android based smartphone. Then the Icon of Google Assistance show up which means that the smartphone is ready to listen to and to take action on my next Voice Command.
1.1.C: I just say:
"Navigate to Holiday Inn in Hazlet, New Jersey"
Then the smartphone will do all the necessary internal steps (Steps B, C, D, E, F and G described in Section 2 below) automatically and in seconds, the screen shows the Google Map with the navigation route from my current location to Holiday Inn Hotel in Hazlet. At this point, the smartphone will say and confirm:
All Right, Holiday Inn. Let's Go!
Such announcement means that the Google Maps GPS navigator is ready to start GPS navigation with voice instruction and the associated navigation map to guide the user/driver to the destination. At this point, the GPS navigator will say the first navigation voice instruction such as "Go south on Main Street for one mile."
It is so simple, easy and fast to use Google Maps GPS navigator as compared to the lengthy and tedious steps required in using the traditional stand alone GPS navigator.
In Step 1.1.B, instead of saying O.K. Google, as an alternative method, I can press the "Home" button at the lower middle of my smartphone "Samsung Galaxy S5", then the Icon of Google Assistance shows up which means that the smartphone is ready to listen to and to take action on my voice command.
1.2. The Reasons Why It is so simple and easy to use
The key reason that Google Maps GPS navigator in a smartphone is so simple and easy to use is that the smartphone is communicating with and is supported by a powerful mainframe computer with huge database in the server through high speed wireless Internet connection. Such high speed wireless Internet connection and the intelligence in the powerful supporting mainframe computer in the server enables the smartphone to shift all the heavy and tedious work load from the user to the mainframe computer to make it as simple as possible for user.
Notice that in Step 1.1.C above, I do not have to spend time and effort to find out the detailed and the precise street address of the destination and to type such detailed address of the destination into the smartphone. I only have to say the names of the hotel, town and state. That is enough for the supporting mainframe computer to do all the necessary work to find out the detailed and precise street address of the destination and to use it for the GPS navigation.
The excellent voice recognition technology and Google Assistant App in the Android based smartphone are also great help to make the Voice Command so simple and easy to use.
1.3. Simple Voice Command to Change Destination
While following the Google Maps based GPS Navigation on the smartphone to drive to the destination described in Section 1.1, if I change my mind or my family members or friends in my car change our minds and want to go to Tokyo Seafood Buffet in Freehold, in New Jersey instead of Holiday Inn Hotel as described in Section 1.1, such change of destination can easily be accomplished by simple voice command without touching the smartphone:
1.3. A: I say "O.K. Google" to get the attention of the smartphone,
1.3. B: Then I just say "Navigate to Tokyo Seafood Buffet in Freehold".
At this point, the smartphone will respond and say:
All Right, Tokyo Sushi and Hibachi Buffet. Let's Go!
Then the Google Maps GPS Navigator on the smartphone will guide me to drive to the new destination.
Notice that in such change of destination, I do not have to touch the smartphone, I do not have to get off the highway to stop and to park my car safely in a suitable parking spot to free up my hands and my mind to find out the address of the new destination, and I do not have to type in the address of the new destination. Instead, I just keep on driving on the highway, keep my eyes on the road ahead and just say the simple voice command to change the destination. The smartphone with high speed wireless communication with the mainframe computer in the server will do all the necessary detailed work to accomplish the change of destination on the GPS navigator for the user.
Also notice that the correct and precise name of the new destination is "Tokyo Sushi and Hibachi Buffet" in Freehold. But what I said approximately is "Tokyo Seafood Buffet" which is acceptable to the smartphone because the smartphone and its supporting mainframe computer in the server have enough intelligence to figure out what I really want is Tokyo Sushi and Hibachi Buffet in Freehold, New Jersey. The intelligence in the smartphone and its supporting mainframe computer is smart enough to be very tolerant and forgiving of user's sloppiness in saying the name of the destination.
As a contrast, the traditional stand alone GPS navigator is usually very strict and unforgiving for any user's spelling errors. The Tokyo Seafood Buffet that I said would have been rejected by the traditional stand alone GPS navigator such that I would be in deep trouble to try to find the correct precise name of the destination to be acceptable to the "dumb" GPS navigator. Many users are often left in such terrible dead end situation and do not know what to do with such dumb GPS navigator.
2. Another Ways to Use Google Maps GPS Navigator
This section 2 describes in detail steps of the "more traditional way" to use smart GPS navigator in a smartphone:
A. Turn on the smartphone
B. Turn on Google Maps Screen by tapping Google icon, then tapping Maps icon
C. On the top of Google Maps screen on a smartphone, there is a search field. If you tap this search field, a soft keyboard will show up in the lower half of the screen for you to enter the text of your search item, such as the hotel or the restaurant, etc. that you want to search on the Google Maps.
D. However, on the right side of the Search Field, there is a small icon of a microphone. Tapping this small microphone icon will bring up a new screen with a larger microphone icon and a line of "Speak Now" on the top indicating that the smartphone is now ready to take your Voice Input of your search item.
E. If you say your destination slowly and clearly:
"Holiday Inn Hotel, Hazlet, New Jersey"
The smartphone and its GPS navigator can get the detailed and precise street address of this Holiday Inn Hotel in Hazlet automatically and quickly, and show such information in the next screen with a small icon of a car.
F. If you tap this small icon of a car, the next screen will show a small routing map from your current location to your destination with the text "Start Navigation" under the routing map.
G. If you tap the text "Start Navigation", the smartphone and Google Maps will start GPS navigation with voice instruction and the associated navigation map to guide the user/driver to the destination.
3. Much Easier to Use as Compared to Traditional Stand Alone GPS Navigators
Sometimes, the smartphone may not understand your voice input accurately or there may be multiple destinations with the same name within certain distance from your current location. With such uncertainty, the smartphone does not simply give up; instead it will guess three or four possibilities of what you have said and provides the list of those four possibilities with four different addresses for you to look at and to choose the correct one. If all four listed possibilities are all wrong, then you can say one more time. Usually it will get it right the second time you say it. In rare case of difficulty in voice input, you always have the option to use the soft keyboard to key in what you want.
This is very different from the traditional stand alone GPS Navigators, which are not so user friendly. The traditional stand alone GPS navigators often reject the destination input from the user for several reasons such as:
(1) the user mis-spell a word in the destination,
(2) the typed name of a highway does not conform to the very strict, strange and inconsistent format requirement (such as CR-537, or County Road 537 or Route 537 or Hwy 537, or 537, etc.). If the format of the highway you typed is different from that stored in the stand alone GPS navigator, it will be rejected and you are out of luck,
(3) the destination is not in the town typed by the user, etc.
The traditional stand alone GPS navigator refuses to accept such inputs and simply rejects them in a very unfriendly way. Many users get stuck in such dead-end situations and do not know what to do. Such unfriendliness and “dumb” manner is one of the reasons that some people give up and do not want to use such unfriendly traditional stand alone GPS navigator.
On the other hand, the Google Maps GPS navigator cuts out all these nonsenses, is very user friendly, is very forgiving for user's typing errors and mistakes, can do many smart things to help users to get what users want. For example, if user specified a wrong town for the destination, the smarter GPS navigator does not simply reject it, but will list the destination in another neighboring town, plus several other towns in other states or countries for the user to look at and to choose the correct one.
In Steps E and F above, the screen actually shows three icons; one is a car icon for navigating a car driver to the destination, the second icon is a bus icon which can guide a user on how to take public transportation (bus, or train, etc.) to go to the destination, and the third icon is a pedestrian icon to guide a user to walk to the destination.
For example, if your destination is a store in a huge shopping center with hundreds of stores, after you park your car in the large parking lot and get out of your car, the smart GPS navigator in Google Maps will switch to the pedestrian mode to guide you to walk from your parking location to the correct location of the store in such a large shopping center.
4. Speed to Search for Destination Information
Most stand-alone GPS navigators have a built-in database of about 6 million Point of Interest (POIs) for user to choose as the destination. The Google Maps GPS navigator in smartphone with 3G/4G high-speed wireless link to mainframe computers in the server has practically unlimited large number of POIs for users to choose.
After a user entered the name of a destination for the GPS navigator to search for destination information such as location/address and phone number, due to the very limited computing power and very limited data base, the traditional stand alone GPS navigators often spend a long time (e.g., 20 minutes) searching for it and then come up with the dreadful result of "Not Found", leaving the user in the dead-end situation. On the other hand, with support of computing power of mainframe computer and unlimited large data base, the Google Maps GPS navigator usually can find the detailed destination information very fast (in the order of seconds) for the user.
5. Quality of Information Provided
Furthermore, when looking for a suitable motel near my current location in a sightseeing trip, the GPS navigator in smartphone provides not only the list of nearby motels with motel names, street addresses, distance from my current location and phone numbers, but also motel quality (star) rating rated by TripAdvisor and or Yelp, a map showing the location of the motel and review comments on the motel by other customers. These are important and useful information for me to make intelligent decision in choosing a suitable nearby motel.
On a Tuesday morning in Fremont, California, I said "Go to Fremont Public Library" to my smartphone, the smartphone responded immediately and was ready to guide my driving to Fremont Public Library. But the smartphone also told me that when I arrived, the library would not be open because on Tuesday, the Fremont Library is open from 1 PM to 9 PM. With such helpful information, I changed my plan and went to do something else until afternoon, then I went to Fremont Library in the afternoon. This is just one example of many useful new service features of "Google Now" or more advanced "Google Assistant" to make smartphone and its GPS Navigator smarter and more useful for the users.
Apple also provides equivalent smart service, Siri, on iPhones and Microsoft also provides equivalent smart service, Cortana, on Microsoft smartphone.
With the support of huge amount of information in the main frame computer in the server, the Google Maps GPS navigator in the smartphone has a lot of extra information about the destination that can be very useful and helpful to the user.
6. Traffic Jam Avoidance
The Google Maps on smartphones has Live (real time) traffic conditions, incident reports, and automatic rerouting to find the best route to avoid traffic jams.
On February 2, 2016, we were driving on I-95 to go from New Jersey to Virginia using the traditional stand alone GPS navigator. Soon after we went over the Delaware Memorial Bridge, there was a huge traffic Jam. The traditional GPS navigator did show the traffic jam in that area but did not tell us what to do. At that point, I pulled out my smartphone and turned on the Google Map GPS navigator which told me that there was accident couple miles ahead and told me to get off I-95 at the next exit half mile ahead. So, we shifted to the right lane and got off I-95 at that exit and followed the navigation of the Google Map GPS navigator for a few miles on the local roads and then got back on I-95 where there were practically no cars at all probably because all the cars were stuck in that big traffic jam a few miles behind us. So, I was very happy that the Google Map GPS navigator had the real time traffic information and the intelligence to guide us to bypass that big traffic jam. Otherwise, we would have stuck in that big traffic jam for a long time.
These are just some examples for the capabilities of Google Maps GPS navigator in smartphone to make the use of GPS navigator must easier, faster and more powerful.
My sons told me that Google also provides another free GPS Navigator known as WAZE on smartphones at:
WAZE has even more and better real time traffic conditions on the roads and can be very useful to many users.
7. Use Address Book - Another Way
There is an address book (i.e., Contact List) of many friends, restaurants, other business companies, etc. in my Android based smartphone. This address book is in sync with the address book in my Google Account. Another way to use Google Maps GPS navigator is to use the address book in my smartphone.
7A. For example, the AAA Office in Old Bridge, New Jersey is in my address book in my smartphone. If I want to go to this AAA Office, I open the address book in my smartphone, tap on AAA - Old Bridge,
7B. Then the name, phone number and address of this AAA Office will show up on the next screen with a (Destination) location icon next to the street address of this AAA Office.
7C. Tap on this (Destination) location icon will trigger Google Maps GPS navigation with the location of this AAA Office marked on the Google map as the destination. An icon of a small car also shows up in this screen.
7D. Tap on this small car icon will bring up a new screen with a routing map from my current location to this AAA Office. There is also a blue arrow icon on this screen.
7E. Tap on this blue icon will start the Google Maps GPS navigation with voice instruction and the associated routing map to guide me to this AAA Office.
By using the address book in the smartphone, you do not need to key in the street address of the destination into the GPS navigator, avoiding the possible trouble of typing error and is much easier to use than the process on the traditional stand alone GPS navigator.
If you want to go to a friend's home in your address book, you can use the similar process to set the destination and let the Google Maps GPS navigator to guide you to the destination.
8. Another Address Book - Use List of Destinations You Used Recently
The Google Maps keeps a list of destinations that you used recently on Google Maps. If your new destination is in this list, you do not have to type in the whole address again. Instead, you can just look it up and finger touch the one you want on this list.
Where is this list of old destinations?
In Step C in Section 2 for you to enter your new destination using the soft keyboard, if you look at the mid- section of the screen above the soft keyboard, you will see a short list of three or four old destinations, that you used recently, for you to choose. If your new destination is not on that short list of three or four, you can scroll down and the soft keyboard disappears to free up more screen space to show a much longer list of old destinations for you to choose. If your new destination is on such list, you just finger touch the destination you want, then the Google Maps GPS Navigator will use it to navigate to that selected destination.
If fact, this list of old destinations you used recently can be much longer because it includes not only the old destinations you entered recently on your smartphone, but also all the destinations that you used recently on Google Maps on your desktop PC or laptop PC in your planning for your trip.
9. More Features in Google Maps GPS Navigator
Some sample video tutorials on how to use more features of Google Maps GPS Navigator on smartphones are available at:
If you do an Internet Search, you can find more tutorials on how to use various other features of Google Maps GPS navigator.
10. In Case if You Have No Wireless Internet Connectivity
The advantages of GPS Navigator on Google Maps in smartphone described above require the smartphone to have high speed wireless (3G/4G) connectivity to Internet. But there are special situation where the user may not have such high speed wireless connectivity to Internet such as traveling in certain foreign country or in some beautiful national parks, national monuments or national wildlife refuges in remote rural area where there is no 3G/4G wireless service coverage.
Thanks to John Amoss and Ray Tai for pointing out that it is possible to download the Google Maps for the area of interest ahead of time into the smartphone when you are at home or at places (e.g., in a hotel) where there are Wi-Fi services. Then the smartphone can use the stored maps offline automatically for basic GPS navigation when you are in such area. In this way, it will work almost like the traditional stand-alone GPS navigator. You can download and store such maps for more than one region and it is all free.
In other words, if you plan to drive into or hike into an area where there is no wireless/mobile phone service coverage, it is important that you download the Google Map of that area into your smartphone while you are still at home or in a hotel where there is WiFi service BEFORE you drive into that area so that your GPS navigator in the smartphone will work in that area.
10.1. How to Download Google Offline Map for Navigation on Google Maps
When you are at home or in a hotel with Wi-Fi service, download a Google map you need to your smartphone by 1. Open the Google Map App on your smartphone, 2. The Google Map shows your current location and surrounding area 3. If this is not the area you want to download, then do Google Map Search for a town, city, county or country that you want to download so that your desired Map is on the screen. 4. Tap on the 3-bar icon on upper left corner of the screen to pull down the menu 5. Tap on “offline areas,” 6. Tap the “+” button at right lower corner. 7. Adjust the size (area) of the map that you want 8. Tap “Download” at the lower right corner to download the map into your smartphone. 9. After the map download is complete, you may edit the name of the downloaded map so that the name is more descriptive of the area covered by the downloaded map, such as Southeast California Desert, instead of Map 32.
When you are in the area with no 3G/4G wireless service coverage, Google Maps in your smartphone will automatically switch into offline mode. But when you’re back in areas with Wi-Fi or 3G/4G wireless service coverage, Google switches back to online mode automatically.
This procedure is also described in the following YouTube video:
The required storage space in the smartphone to store the downloaded Google Map depends on the size of the area of interest and the map information contents in the area. It may require a storage space in the order of several hundreds MB (i.e., less than 1 GB). So, use Setting in the smartphone to check to make sure that your smartphone has sufficient spare storage space to store the downloaded map for the area of interest. In case if the available storage space is insufficient, the storage space in many smartphones can be increased substantially by installing a suitable micro-SD card with sufficient storage capacity such as 32 GB or 64 GB or greater.
After the micro-SD card is installed in your smartphone, you may use certain feature in the Setting of smartphone to specify certain sets of data to be stored on the additional storage space in this installed micro- SD card.
10.2. More Information on GPS Navigation with Offline Map
More information on such download of offline map for GPS navigation is available in several websites such as:
lets you download any global map to reside on the mobile/smartphone and thus you don't need Internet connectivity for the GPS navigator on smartphone to work. This option of "HERE Maps" may be important and helpful in some foreign countries (such as Japan) where Google Map cannot be downloaded because of contractual limitations, language support, address formats, or other reasons. For example, when I tried to download the map around Tokyo in Japan, the "Download" soft button on my smartphone is grayed out indicating that it cannot be downloaded because of the reasons mentioned above.
11. Smartphone Holder to Hold Smartphone in a Car for Navigation
Many types of smartphone holder are available on the market to hold the smartphone in a car for GPS navigation application. Some sample smartphone holder can be seen on the Amazon website.
I am using Grip Magic/Vent 2 (by MPOW) to hold smartphone in my car. Several pictures of Grip Magic can be seen here. It is an Air Vent Magnetic Car Mount. It has four sturdy rubber fingers that can be push into to grip tight on the air vent of the car. It has a metal plate that can be inserted between the back of the smartphone and its protective case or attach the adhesive side of the metal plate to the back of the protective case of the smartphone. The Grip Magic holder has a strong magnet with flat surface that can hold strongly to the metal plate on the backside of the smartphone. It works well.
I also have a car charger to keep my smartphone charged if I need to use the Google Maps GPS navigator on the smartphone for extended period of time of hours.
The following web page describes how I use GPS navigator and other related information age technologies to make my sightseeing driving tours much easier and enjoyable:
12. Not a Good Idea to Buy GPS Navigator that is Built-In in a New Car
It is NOT a good idea to buy a GPS navigator that is built-in (in-Dash) in a new car for several reasons, such as:
12.1 Very Expensive:
The price of a built-in GPS navigator in a car is very expensive in the order of US$1,500 to $3,000. The price of a typical traditional stand-alone portable GPS navigator is usually only about US$200 or less. Furthermore, the GPS navigator on Google Maps in a smartphone is FREE.
12.2 Very Expensive to Update the Map:
The typical cost to update the map in a built-in GPS navigator is about US$200 each time whereas most stand- alone portable GPS navigators provide FREE map update for the life of the GPS navigator. Usually we need to update the map in the GPS navigator at least once per year because there are always some construction work going on that changes the roads or the highway exit ramps, etc. every year. For GPS navigator on Google Maps in a smartphone, there is no need for the user to update the map because online Google Maps are always up-to-date.
12.3 The Built-In GPS navigator is stuck in a car such that you cannot take it with you and use it in a rental car or in other cars when you are traveling out of town.
On the other hand, the stand-alone portable GPS navigator and smartphone obviously can be used on any car and are much more useful.
Some people may say that rental car companies usually offer a rental GPS navigator as an optional item for the rental car. But using such optional rental GPS navigator in a rental car has two disadvantages:
(1) Incur additional rental charge on the rental GPS navigator, and
(2) It can be a horrible experience to use an unfamiliar GPS navigator in an unfamiliar rental car while driving in an unfamiliar territory. The driver has to learn real time how to use the unfamiliar GPS navigator and how to operate the unfamiliar rental car while driving in an unfamiliar territory. The distractions of driver's attention from the road by piling up such three layers of unfamiliarities together is almost a recipe for the poor driver to run into an automobile accident.
12.4 Future Trend of In-Dash GPS Navigator in a Car
Google is developing Android-Auto and Apple is developing Apple CarPlay to let a smartphone to use a car’s center screen for GPS navigation. The user plugs in a smartphone with a USB cord and the smartphone powers up on a car’s center screen. Roughly two dozen car brands have signed on to offer such GPS navigation feature on new cars soon. Obviously, such feature in future cars will have all the advantages of Free GPS navigator on Google Maps as described above. It allows for Google’s or Apple’s operating system to essentially take over the center screen and certain control buttons within the car. The consumers expect to have such coordination between their smartphone and their vehicle.
13. Pedestrian Mode of GPS Navigation for Hikers
13.1. Find a Store in a Huge Shopping Mall
The GPS navigator on Google Maps can be used not only for vehicle navigation, but also for pedestrian navigation for hikers on city streets or on hiking trails. Google Maps provide not only highways and roads for vehicles, but also hiking trails for pedestrian. A demonstration for this pedestrian mode of navigation on Google Maps can be seen at the following YouTube website:
Furthermore, in a large shopping mall with hundreds of stores or in a large office complex with hundred of business companies, the traditional stand alone GPS navigator guides you only to the large mall or the large office complex. Then it is up to you to find out where is the store of interest to you in that large mall or where is the particular company in that large office complex.
But Google Maps GPS navigator has details of all the stores in the mall and all the companies in the large office complex and can guide you to the exact location of the store or the company when you use the Pedestrian Mode on the huge parking lot of the large shopping mall or in the large office complex.
13.2. Find Your Car Parked on a Huge Parking Lot
Sometime people go to a huge shopping center or a huge office complex with a huge parking lot. Sometime people forget where they parked his/her car when he/her finished shopping. Google Maps can remember your parked location and its GPS navigator can help you to find your parked car.
After you followed Google Maps GPS navigator, arrived and parked your car, before you turn off Google Maps GPS navigator on your smartphone, you do the following:
Marking your current location on Google Map: you tap on the small blue dot on the Google Map on the smartphone screen that represents your current location on the huge parking lot. This will bring up a new screen with three options for you to choose. You tap on the "Save Your Parking" option. This saves your parking location on the Google Map.
In case if you arrive at the huge parking lot without using the Google Map GPS navigator, then at your parking location you turn on your smartphone and turn on Google Maps GPS navigator on the smartphone and mark your parking location on the Google Map by the procedure described in the paragraph above.
When you finish shopping and need to find your car in the huge parking lot, you open up the Google Maps on your smartphone, then tap the search field for destination. This will bring up several destinations you used recently. Tap on your saved parking location and use the pedestrian mode of navigation for the GPS navigator to guide you to walk to your parked car.
13.3. Find Your Way Back If You Get Lost
Sometime a tourist may get lost while enjoying a walking tour in an unfamiliar city or a hiker may get lost while doing a long hike in an unfamiliar territory. To avoid such problem of getting lost, you can mark your starting location on the Google Map in your smartphone by the procedure described in Section 13.2 and use the Pedestrian Mode of Google Maps GPS Navigatgor to help you to go back to your starting location.
14. Traffic Color Codes on Google Maps
Another nice feature of GPS navigation on Google Maps is that the real time traffic conditions on the highways are color coded. Blue color means traffic is normal and smooth on your planned route, orange color on a section of your planned route means there is a medium amount of slower traffic on that section of the route, red color on a section of your planned route means there are substantial traffic delays or serious traffic jam on that section of the road. The more red, the slower the speed of traffic on that section of the road.
Furthermore, the GPS navigator on Google Maps also indicates the number of minutes of extra delay to go through a given red colored section of the route ahead. Such color coded traffic conditions with delay time label on the route ahead is quite useful to many people.
For example, if the red section ahead is very short, in the order of a small fraction of a mile and the extra delay is only a few minutes, the driver may decide to stay on the same route and to tolerate the very heavy traffic for that short section. But if the red section is very long in the order of many miles and the extra delay is 30 minutes or more, the driver may decide to take the next highway exit and to force the GPS navigator to produce an alternative route to avoid that long section of heavy traffic jam ahead.
Sometimes, the Google Maps GPS navigator will produce an alternative route to bypass the heavy traffic jam and offer the alternative route as an option for the driver to decide to stay on the same route or to accept the suggested alternative route.
15. Safety Consideration in Using GPS Navigator
There are news articles reporting people in remote areas followed GPS navigator into unpaved road and get stuck in such remote area for several days.
Please see one of many examples of such dangers on unpaved roads as reported at:
Similarly, in the winter season, do not drive onto an unplowed road with heavy snow in a remote and unfamiliar area. Getting stuck in remote area in very cold winter with heavy snow for many days can be life threatening.
So, it is important to take some precaution steps in your planning for your trips in such remote areas:
15.1. Fill Up the Gas Tank in Every Morning
Spectacular national parks are often in remote areas. When I am doing sightseeing driving tour in a remote area, the first thing I do in the morning is to fill up the gas tank of my car near the hotel before I go anywhere. This is an important step to make sure that I do not run out of gas and get stranded in a remote area where there may be no cell phone coverage such that the stranded person cannot call for help.
I remember that when I did the driving tour in Alaska, the local advice is that when you see a gas station, fill up the gas tank of your car because the distance between gas stations is often very far in Alaska and the next gas station may be out of gas. You do not want to run out of gas and get stranded in remote area in Alaska where Grizzly bear may show up to visit you.
15.2. Download the Google Map into the Smartphone Before the Trip
If I plan to tour a remote area where there may be no cell phone coverage, I will download the Google Map for that remote area into my smartphone while I am still at home or in a hotel where there are WiFi service to facilitate such map download. The procedure to download Google Map into smartphone is described in Section 10. Or use the traditional stand alone GPS navigator which does not need Internet connectivity to work. In this way, the GPS navigator will work properly in such remote area even when there is no cell phone coverage.
Without such pre-loaded map and when the car is at the fringe area of weak cell phone signal, a smartphone based GPS navigator may appear to be working, but may be more likely to give wrong navigation instructions and tell the driver to make the wrong turn into the wrong road.
15.3. Do Not Drive into Unpaved Road in Unfamiliar Territory
In an unfamiliar and remote area, do not drive onto an unpaved road even if the GPS navigator tell you to do so. The probability is high of getting stuck or getting into life threating danger if one drives onto an unpaved road in an unfamiliar territories. For example, see the following video on how an unpaved road in Joshua Tree National Park can become very difficult and dangerous for a regular sedan to get stuck in a desolate desert with no mobile phone service coverage:
It is much safer to stay on paved road even if it is a longer road to get to the destination. When you reject the unpaved road recommended by the GPS navigator and keep on driving on the paved road, your persistence will force the GPS navigator to re-route (to avoid the unpaved road) to reach your destination.