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Amy Iverson: 4 awesome Google Maps features you never knew existed

FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2018, file photo, a mobile phone displays a user's travels using Google Maps in New York. Google attracted concern about its continuous surveillance of users after The Associated Press reported that it was tracking people’s movement
In this Aug. 8, 2018, file photo, a mobile phone displays a user's travels using Google Maps in New York.
Seth Wenig

People always seem to debate which maps app is better: Google or Apple. But in my eyes there is no comparison. Google Maps just seems more intuitive, thorough and accurate. And it looks like I’m not alone in this opinion. The latest numbers from Statista show more than 23 million people access the Apple Maps app every month. But that doesn’t hold a candle to the 154.4 million monthly users of Google Maps.

If I’m honest, I do use Apple Maps on occasion, but it’s usually when I’ve asked Siri something and then the navigation defaults to Apple Maps. It’s never my navigation app of choice.

But even with so many of us using Google Maps, I highly doubt everyone is utilizing the app to its fullest. Here are some helpful and interesting features you may not know exist.

Find someone to drive you

When you put in a new location for directions, different forms of transportation appear right under the addresses. You can see the travel time in a car, by public transit, on foot, bicycle or with a ride sharing app. Click on the icon of a person waving down a ride, and options will pop up for Uber and Lyft. You can see the price for each service and open the corresponding app right from Google Maps. This could be especially helpful when traveling. Maybe you’re trying to decide whether to take the subway or grab an Uber. This way, you can easily see which one will take longer and whether the cost is worth your time. Note that when you click on the public transit option, prices and times for ride sharing appear at the bottom of that screen as well as right under the mass transit details.

Go back in time with Street View

Google Maps has a virtual time machine called “Time Travel.” On any map, drag the little yellow Pegman from the bottom right corner of the screen onto any blue highlighted street for street view. Once you’re looking at a desired location, click on the clock icon in the upper left-hand corner. Use the slider to go back through the years and view every photo Google Maps has ever taken of that location. It’s a fascinating walk through history. Note that this only works on a computer right now and not mobile devices.

Find parking and then set your parking location

Here’s a helpful tool that only works on Android devices. After searching for your destination in Google Maps, tap “Directions” at the bottom of your screen, and then tap “Steps & more.” From there you should be able to tap “Find parking near destination,” where you can choose a parking lot or garage and tap “Add parking.” Remember that "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George spent the entire time trying to remember where they parked? If only they had Android phones back in 1991, those poor goldfish would have never had such a traumatic experience. Save where you’re parked by tapping the blue dot showing your location on Google Maps, then tap “Save your parking.” When it’s time to head home, just type “parking location” in the search bar of Google Maps and the directions will take you right there.

Find live events near you

It happens all the time — you’re out to dinner with friends and want to keep the night going, but aren’t sure what to do. Just open Google Maps and click the “Events” tab under “Explore nearby.” You’ll instantly see a list of concerts, sporting events and other happenings around you. You can also use this feature for future outings by choosing a different timeframe like tomorrow or this weekend. Click on any of the events for details, to add it to your calendar, to buy tickets and to get directions, of course.