Google Maps: Pit Stops

Google Maps has added a feature called Pit Stops to its Android and iOS apps.

Pit Stops allow you to add, well, pit stops to a planned route. Once the stop is added; the navigation route updates itself and the length of time the trip will take. Of course, how long you spend at a stop will also impact your trip length, but Google wisely declines to make estimates of that.

To use the Pit Stop feature, you have to enter navigation mode:

Google Maps trip estimate
Press the Arrow Button to enter Navigation mode

Once in Navigation mode the Pit Stop icon appears as a magnifying glass:

Google Maps Screen in Navigation Mode. The Pit Stops icon is visible.
The button to launch the Pit Stops has a magnifying glass icon.

Pressing the Pit Stops button gives you a list of preconfigured searches; Gas stations, Restaurants, Grocery stores and Coffee  shops. But there is also a search button for your own custom searching.

Google Maps Pit Stops showing the list of available searches.
The Pit Stop search list view.

If I search for say; Tim Hortons coffee shops along my route, the search will return the coffee shops closest to my planned route, giving an estimate of the amount of time that will be added to my travels.

Google Maps Pit Stop search results
Pit Stop search results, showing the amount of time each stop will add to the journey.

Select the location of the Pit Stop you want to go to and a confirmation window will open at the bottom of your screen. At this point you can choose to Add Stop or Cancel, which is useful if you were only checking out possible stops along the way.

Google Maps, showing the Add Stop/Cancel options.
Use the Add Stop or Cancel options to update (or not) your map.

Exiting Navigation at this point allows you to see the updated time for your journey.  Android users are apparently able to add up to 10 Pit Stops to their routes, currently iOS users can only have one.

Google Maps, showing list of destinations and updated time.
Google Maps shows the starting point, end point and all the Pit Stops in between.

If you attempt to add a new Pit Stop, you will only see the option to replace the current stop, not add a new one.

Google Maps showing the replace stop option
The Replace Stop option, tho’ its’ kinda cut off here…

 

The other challenge for iOS users, is that Pit Stops can only be scheduled during navigation, which means your current location is always factored in. Which can lead to some wacky route planning.

Google Maps showing how the user's currently location affects route planning.
Google Maps shows how to get there, indirectly.

Nevertheless, a really useful feature and, once the iOS version catches up with the Android implementation it will be excellent on both platforms.

Google Slides vs PowerPoint for Social Media

Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing tips for using PowerPoint for social media. Which leads naturally to asking about using Google Slides the same way.

And Google Slides offers comparable features; in particular it does support saving slides as JPG’s and custom dimensions.

What doesn’t Slides have? The photo editing tools and artistic filters that come with PowerPoint are not available, so you’ll have to pre-edit in another application.  And you’ll find that your capabilities are limited on the mobile versions of Slides, so you’ll be forced back to the desktop version.

Google Timer and Stopwatch

Do you wish that you had a timer on your desktop just like the one on your smartphone?

Just type “timer 5 minutes” (or 3 minutes or 10 or whatever) into your Google search bar. A timer will appear. You can maximize it to fill the screen and there will be an audible beep (which you can mute) at the end of the timer.

You’ll notice a Stopwatch panel on the screen too. To get to the stopwatch directly, type “stopwatch” (unsurprisingly) in the Google search bar.

 

PowerPoint: Like toppings on pizza

You may never have looked at Outline View in PowerPoint. But, if you have presentation that has text you should check it out. Working in Outline View is not only the fastest way to build the  outline, it creates a more robust and easily edited presentation as well.

By default, when you add text in Outline view, the text is placed in a text placeholder. Placeholder text is easier to edit than text in text boxes.

Here is a little experiment you can do.

Start by adding some text in Outline view. The default Layout “Title and Content” is used.

Examing the text in Outline View
Looking at a slide in Outline View. The text appears in both the Outline View and the slide.

 

Here is what the slide looks like in Slides View, again the text is the same in the  Slides View panel and in the slide itself.

The Slides View panel
The Slides View panel

Now try changing the layout to one without a content placeholder. The text remains in Outline View and on  the placeholder in the slide.  Then, move the text placeholder around and resize it.

Now, change the layout back to “Title and Content” and you’ll find the placeholder snaps back to its original position and size. If you tried recolouring the text, press the Reset button (just underneath the Layout button) and it too will revert to the default appearance set by the placeholder.

Now, compare this with the behaviour of text in text boxes.

This text is in a text box. Note that it does not appear in Outline view.
This text is in a text box. Note that it does not appear in Outline view.

This text is not connected with the placeholder on the slide. It is “floating” on top of the slide “like toppings on a pizza”  in the poetic words of one of my former coworkers.

This lack of connection can make it harder to manage in the long run.

Text box text in slide with placeholders.
Text box text in slide with placeholders.

Note what happens when I change the layout to  “Title and Content“. The text box is actually floating underneath the placeholder.  What a pain for editing! Resetting the slide has no impact on text in text boxes. Also, you’ll notice that the text is not visible in Outline View, so none of those tools are available for editing either.

Does that mean that I never use text boxes?

Of course not, I use text boxes when I want to create text that will remain independent of the general formatting rules for the presentation. But since consistency in formatting is a sign of a professional presentation, I use text boxes sparingly.