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3 new ways to use Google Maps to explore your surroundings

You might use Waze as a navigation tool to get around town, but nothing beats Google Maps for getting a bird’s eye view of your surroundings.

The highly-detailed mapping application is continuously updated by Google, adding more features to fly around the globe quickly. You can even travel back in time! Tap or click here for a Google Map trick to see your house from years ago.

The tech giant has introduced three more exciting ways Google Maps can improve your life. Read on for the newest functions and how to use them.

Here’s the backstory

Google is the first to admit that Maps launched as a navigational tool, but it has since morphed into a much more extensive application and travel companion. Many people use it to get a sense of their surroundings or to explore a city before going on vacation.

Since launching Google Maps, it has introduced 360-degree photos, public images of an area and Street View, which lets you get down into the heart of a location. The company is taking things further by delivering on three promised features earlier this year.

RELATED: Google Maps and Apple Maps: 10 hidden settings you’ll use all the time

1. Location-based alerts

An update to Google Maps lets you send your location to others, similar to how you can send live locations through WhatsApp. The function also lets you see when friends leave a location or arrive safely at their destination.

According to a Google blog post, “notifications can only be set for someone who has already chosen to share their location with you.” You can choose when to stop sharing your location with others, and you’ll also get recurring monthly notifications about your sharing activity.

You can get step-by-step instructions on sharing your location through Google Maps here for desktop, Android or iPhone & iPad.

2. View landmarks in aerial view

It’s possible to view global landmarks in 3D using Google Maps on a desktop computer, and you can fly around it to get a good look. That functionality is now available in the app, too. Google calls this “immersive view,” and it works slightly differently.

It’s available for specific buildings and landmarks in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo, bringing a new dimension to planning your trip. When you search for a landmark on Google, such as the Empire State Building, there’s an option to view a full 360-degree rendering.

3. Detailed cycle routes

Launching in the coming weeks, Google is adding a new detailed bicycle route viewer to some areas. When you get directions from Google Maps, tap on the bicycle option, and you’ll get several routes with more information, such as heavy traffic, steep hills or whether it’s on a major road or local street.

BONUS: Keep your data private

Sometimes you want to keep a few things private. Google Maps, of course, needs your GPS location to provide navigational data and information on your location.

Did you know Google stores all your location data from Google Maps? Here’s how you can turn off Google’s location history in Google Maps:

  • Open Google Maps and make sure you’re signed in.
  • Click on your profile picture.
  • Click Manage your Google Account.
  • Tap the Data & privacy tab.
  • Under History settingsclick Location History.
  • Tap the Turn off button. (NOTE: If it’s already off, you don’t need to tap the button. It will show Off on the left side of the screen.)

Tap or click here for more ways to take back some privacy from Google.

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