Google Maps

App review by
Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Media
Google Maps App Poster Image
Sublime navigation tool with cool extras.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to navigate the world through satellite-based views of homes, buildings, parks, streets, bus lines, and bike lanes. Data like distance, scale, travel time, cardinal directions, and even traffic conditions will empower kids to make informed decisions about getting around -- from making it to a new friend's party to safely biking across town. One downside is the apparent inability to use specialized maps for instance hiking trails. Google Maps is an essential navigation tool that empowers kids to explore their world.

Ease of Play

Interface is well-designed and intuitive, navigation is mostly easy despite many functions, and controls are responsive. Unfortunately, exiting navigation requires exiting the app.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

Main menu includes local offers and services like restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, campgrounds, attractions, oil change, and movies. Banner ads at top and offers placed in map searches.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Google Maps is essentially a map and navigation tool based on Google Earth with some very cool bells and whistles. Along with map layers like traffic and Wikipedia, nearby services, and friend mapping, there's also solid navigation for driving, walking, riding the bus, or bicycling. Main menu button is not always available so moving around can get tricky. Check In and Latitude features could make big vacation-style family reunions a breeze. Please note that this review is based on the Android version of the app; the iOS version is similar but there are differences in functionality.

User Reviews

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 14 years old Written byleahcar July 21, 2013

Even more efficient than a mapbook!

Google Maps is a very useful maps service, where you can easily search for any place or road in any part of the world. You can even take a look around the stree... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old April 14, 2014

What's it about?

Expandable side menu includes maps, navigation, nearby services, and more. Top menu includes map search box with text or voice recognition and layers button. A basic search entails speaking or typing a location: Google Maps does the rest. The double-diamond compass rose returns orientation to north facing. Tap "My Location" compass rose in the header to return to current location. Tap again for "Compass" mode and a slightly angled view most useful in street view.

Is it any good?

Google Maps is an excellent tool for active people who like to get around. Navigation provides well-highlighted alternate routes, optional text-list display with voice guidance, street level views with rotation, a peg man to drag around, and easy zoom controls. Users can ask for directions for driving, walking, biking, or riding the bus. Map layers include traffic, transit lines, bicycling routes, Wikipedia articles, attractions, restaurants, and satellite view (toggle for map view). Terrain layer shows contour. The app also provides some icing with latitude and check-in features, screenshots for offline viewing, and extensive web-based help. While we don't recommend that minors broadcast their location, Latitude and check-in allow you to publish your presence at nearby locations even intersections with traveling direction, westbound, for example. (It feels a bit strange at first, like, uh, Can I check out? à la Hotel California.) App mines Google+ info including profile photo and contacts from your device to select groups to "check in" with (the default is public). With Latitude layer selected, you can see all nearby checked-in contacts in maps. Great for family resort vacations or reunions.

Settings has a [Google] Labs list of hopeful yet currently confusing accessibility add-ons including one for blind and low-vision users, one that measures distances and elevation changes, one that makes text larger, and one that displays elevation with directions. Unfortunately, in practice, the usefulness of these add-ons, other than the larger text, is unclear. The few downsides are that it sucks power like most navigation tools, and you must exit the app when you exit navigation.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Make your kid the official navigator starting with a low-stress trip when you have plenty of time.

  • Put your kid in charge of teaching and tracking family members at a resort location.

  • Challenge your kid to find the quickest way to the new restaurant while still at home.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding, exploration, geography, global awareness
    Math: measurement
  • Skills: Self-Direction: achieving goals, goal-setting, initiative, personal growth
    Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, asking questions, collecting data, part-whole relationships
    Tech Skills: using and applying technology
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Subscription price: Free
  • Release date: December 17, 2012
  • Category: Navigation
  • Size: 0.00 MB
  • Publisher: Google
  • Version: varies with device
  • Minimum software requirements: varies with device

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