What do you do when you end up in an unknown and unmarked location? How do you call for help or ask someone to come pick you up? Google wants to answer these questions with Plus codes in its Maps app. But what is it and how to use it?
Often we find ourselves in a location where there is no street name, no landmark, or anything else to go by. Imagine what happens when you are on a trail, hiking or cycling, or elsewhere in the arms of Mother Nature. We have all been there. We all need help with some information and that's where the new Plus codes in Google Maps come to our rescue.
What Are Plus Codes
A Plus code acts as a personal street address for the location you're standing or sitting with your phone. Each location or point has a unique plus code. It is a series of alphanumeric digits with the '+' sign and code for your exact location, followed by the city name. Check the screenshot below.
No matter where I click in New Jersey, the first two alphabets remain the same. So, I am guessing Google follows some logic like country, city, and area, followed by the two-digit plus code.
Each plus code is unique, associated with a unique location or point on Earth. How cool is that?
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How Plus Codes Work
Most people use Google Maps and will end up using Plus codes on it anyway. For this post, I am using Android. Open Google Maps, no separate app needed, and enable your GPS.
Now, tap on the blue dot that marks your current location, and you'll notice a blue menu with a few options. You should see your city name and your location's plus code.
When you tap on Pick a place option at the top of the screen, you will see a set of red dots on the map. Each dot represents a known spot near you with their corresponding names at the bottom of the screen in cards. It can be a restaurant, ATM, diner, or anything else. Something that will help the other party find you.
A physical landmark which is a lot more useful in finding someone when driving around. Tap on the red dot to learn more about the place like name, working hours, etc. and then its Plus code. You can now share this Plus code to help others locate you or that particular spot that is near you.
So, you can either share your exact location or a nearby spot, depending on your circumstances.
Notice one of the options is Save your parking. Pretty handy, eh? I know some people who were using a dedicated app for this. Not anymore. The parking feature also comes with the ability to take notes, set reminder time, and add photos. That will be more useful for people who have trouble remembering things or have poor memory.
Pick a place, and See nearby places options bring up the same menu for me. Bug? The service is still new, so it could be.
Share your location is interesting. It brings up a menu where you can see your phone's location, battery details, and profile picture. You know, so others know they need to hurry because your phone is about to die and you are not carrying a power bank.
A list of your recently used apps and contacts showing up there is self-explanatory. And then there is this option to set time. You are sharing your location in real-time, and this timer decides for long you continue to do that. Imagine getting kidnapped and turning real-time location on using plus codes. Bad example. Imagine you are cycling or hiking and want someone to know you are OK and moving in the right direction.
Plus code can also come in handy for those who live in houses that are not numbered. According to Google, more than 2 billion people worldwide don't have a proper address. Imagine how difficult it must be for them to register for basic services, banking, or just call emergency services. Plus codes could solve that problem to an extent.
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Plus Codes Features
Like most Google apps and services, Plus codes is
free to use. The good thing is that it works offline, so you don't need
an active internet connection.
Remember how we discussed codes are similar or begin similarly when
two points are close to each other? That can tell whether the person is
close by, without having even to open the app.
Don't have a smartphone or want to use Plus codes offline for your
shop or something? Google has made it non-exclusive you can pin it on a
grid map paper. That was thoughtful. Google notes that because Plus Code
does not use country codes, they work in disputed territories and
places that haven't been mapped yet. Unmapped places are where these
codes will be most useful, in my opinion. For everything else, we have
street names and landmarks and, sometimes, memory.
Plus codes work in Google Maps but they also work in Google Search.
That makes it incredibly easy to use and find someone quickly. The search
result link will take you to the Maps app in no time.
Map My World
Google Maps continues to get better, adding new and useful features often. Plus codes is the latest in Google's longstanding
efforts to make traveling and commuting easy, fun, and effortless. If
this wasn't enough, Google went ahead and made it open-source so that
developers could build upon it. There is a reason why Google Maps is so
loved and used.
Check the next link for a huge list of best Google Maps tips and tricks that you can use to improve your commuting and traveling needs.
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