Cape Town - If you've limited your usage to Google Maps, then you've been missing out on the opportunity to make your travels and memories in South Africa ridiculously awesome.
Traveller24 joined Google Africa for its #GoogleInNairobi Project Gulliver. The aim was to check-out exactly how Google's applications could enhance travelling.
Whether it's before, during or after - these obsessive-compulsive-styled apps really are amazing but far from disorderly.
Here are seven apps we think you should consider the next time you go adventuring...
BEFORE AND DURING YOUR TRIP:
1. Google App - the essential travel assistant
Download the Google App (on Android or iPhone).
Once installed, it can help you plan and manage your trip and will provide the right information at the right time – before you even ask.
Going on an SA road trip this festive season? Tag us in your pics with #SARoadTrip
2. Voice Search - "Okay Google"
The Voice Search option, which is not only functional but playful too, allows you to ask a question and get an answer in the natural language of your choice. At times, background noise can affect functionality, but then you simply revert back to the typing-search function. This voice search however is perfect for when you're driving, no?
All you need do to is say, "Ok Google" or tap the microphone icon to begin.
3. Google NOW, via the Google App
This is a useful in-trip function as it brings up notifications relevant to your travels from your Gmail account and Google Calendar - making it a lot easier to manage your schedule.
For example, you could save your car-hire notifications to your Gmail account, Google will bring forward a card a day or two before your trip, detailing times as well any other useful information you've synced up. Added to this, you'll also be able to see the weather at your destination, recommendations of places to see and things to do and notable places where you can take photos.
All this information will be generated automatically, so you don’t need to scramble around for any details.
4. Google Calendar
Syncing your Google App to your Google calendar is certainly the organised approach to travelling. It navigates you from place to place with notifications on where you should be next and when you should prepare to leave in order to arrive on time. Being late is not an option with this App, which would probably suite business travellers better - if you're wanting a more relaxed approach to your break, I'd suggest opting out of this one.
Either way, all it takes is a simple downward swipe to refresh your screen for some very useful cards, related to your trip and itinerary, to magically appear.
5. Street View in Google Maps
Street View in Google Maps provides 360 degree street-level images of thousands of cities, tourist hot-spots and places of interest throughout the world. This App gives you an in-destination look and feel of what you can expect when you arrive.
6. Google Maps
I can't tell you how lost I would be without the Google Maps App on my phone and this is probably the one we're all most familiar with. But did you know it also has a pretty cool compass icon, which will show you exactly where you are at all times.
But not as cool as syncing it with the voice search app function, which will enable instant navigation to your destination.
Finding places to head to in the particular destination you're visiting is as simple as tapping on the location on the map. It then generates a card at the bottom of the screen, which details useful information about the place. You can also reciprocate in helping fellow travellers enjoy good experiences and avoid the bad ones. Rate and review a place by tapping on the number of stars you think it deserves. There is also an option to leave a more detailed written review - deciding where to go in an unfamiliar place is just that easy.
Google has also recently launched a new Maps feature called Timeline - which can now intrinsically record the places you visit without you having to check-in or do anything. It operates via your Google+ and is only visible to you - making it easy to revisit certain places or keep proper track of the places you discover by chance and may want to check out again during a return trip.
7. AFTER YOUR TRIP: Google photos
As smartphones and funky camera functionality turn us all into budding, professional photographers, this is probably my favourite and most valuable free App of the lot. Why? Because it offers you a backup of your memories, available at any time, from any place on the planet.
Google Photos not only includes a setting for automatic backup, is always available, but also includes UNLIMITED free storage at high quality resolution for your pics and videos, which smartly allows you to free up the space on your phone.
NB things to note:
You will need to have a Google+ account setup, including a gmail account in order to use some of the Apps mentioned above. Also keep in mind that for most of them require access to wifi or a good amount of data - so best you plan accordingly.
Battery life on your devices is essential for being able to use the Apps. Make sure you're all charged up before you head out and it can't hurt to carry a handy power bank with you either.
What's your favourite Google App? We'd love you to share your travel experiences with us, or you can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.