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Map App Functions on an Android Phone

Perhaps the best thing about using the Maps app on your Android is that there’s no risk of improperly folding anything. Even better, the Maps app charts everything you need to find your way: freeways, highways, roads, streets, avenues, drives, bike paths, addresses, businesses, and points of interest.

Start the Maps app by choosing Maps from the apps drawer, or you may find a Maps app launcher lurking on the Home screen. If you’re starting the app for the first time or it has recently been updated, you must agree to the terms and conditions. Do so as directed on the touchscreen.

Your Android phone communicates with GPS satellites to hone in on your current location. That location appears on the map. The position is accurate to within a given range, as shown by a blue circle around your location. If the circle doesn’t appear, your location is either pretty darn accurate or you need to zoom in.

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Here are some fun things you can do when viewing the basic street map:

Zoom in: To make the map larger (to move it closer), double-tap the screen. You can also spread your fingers on the touchscreen to zoom in.

Zoom out: To make the map smaller (to see more), pinch your fingers on the touchscreen.

Pan and scroll: To see what’s to the left or right or at the top or bottom of the map, swipe your finger on the touchscreen. The map scrolls in the direction you swipe.

Rotate: Using two fingers, rotate the map clockwise or counterclockwise. Touch the Compass Pointer icon to reorient the map with north at the top of the screen.

Perspective: Touch the screen with two fingers and swipe up or down to view the map in perspective. You can also tap the Location icon to switch to perspective view, although that trick works only for your current location. To return to flat-map view, touch the Compass Pointer icon.

The closer you zoom in to the map, the more detail you see, such as street names, address block numbers, and businesses and other sites — but no tiny people.

  • The blue triangle shows in which general direction the phone is pointing.

  • When the phone’s direction is unavailable, you see a blue dot as your location on the map.

  • To view the navigation drawer, touch the icon. Swipe the navigation drawer to the left to return to the Maps app.

  • When all you want is a virtual compass, similar to the one you lost as a kid, get the Compass app from the Google Play Store.

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