Apps that use a smartphone’s GPS functions to help you find your way around are nothing new.
But there are new features in two such apps that are worth checking out.
Googling Up Uber
Open up Google Maps on your smartphone now and not only will you get the time and distance for reaching your destination via car, bus, bike, or foot, but you’ll also get an estimate of the cost of a ride from Uber (if the service is available where you’re at) and how long it will take the Uber driver to pick you up.
Just tap on that Uber estimate in Google Maps, and the Uber app will open, allowing you to request a ride.
How Long Will It Take Me Tomorrow (or Whenever)?
Good news, bad news.
Good news is that if you are using Google Maps on a computer, you can find out not only how long it will take you to travel from “Point A” to “Point B” right now, but at a future time or date.
For example, if I wanted to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles in three weeks from this coming Saturday, and arrive by 4:00 pm, Google Maps tells me how long the drive would take, and also give me information on getting there by public transportation of by plane (including an estimated airfare) if I didn’t want to travel by car..
The bad news: This function does not work if you include intermediate stops between your starting point and final destination.
More bad news: This function is not available in the Google Maps app for Apple mobile devices.
Waze Tells You “It’s Time to Go!”
Waze, the app that displays traffic on the streets and highways along your route, now can tell you when it’s time to take off for an appointment.
And if you link Waze to the Calendar on your iPhone or your Facebook Events, it will create a “Planned Drive” for all of those events.
You can also manually add a “Planned Drive” within the Waze app.
Waze will and automatically remind you to hit the road when that appointment comes up, as long as you enter a location with a street address in your calendar item.
About an hour in advance, Waze will tell you when you should plan to leave and how long the drive will take.
The app will notify you again when you actually need to head out the door and down the road, and provide turn-by-turn directions for getting to your destination.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to manually tell Waze to give you a “wake up call” a specified period of time in advance.
For example, suppose you knew that it usually would take you ten minutes to get from your office to the parking garage in your building. You can’t impart that information to Waze.
Waze is supposed to be able to use real-time traffic data for calculate how long it will actually take you to make the drive, and adjust that time (and when to alert you to depart) if the traffic improves or gets worse.
But unless you always, always, always have your smartphone on your person or nearby, you’ll miss seeing Waze tell you to skedaddle.
And alas, the Google Maps app doesn’t have a similar “It’s Time to Boogaloo to the Bus, Baby!” for those who use public transit, or plan to walk or bike to appointments.