How to use Google Maps’ re-routing option on the iPhone

Google offers alternate routes if you know where to look in iOS.

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I use my phone constantly for directions, as I’m sure millions of drivers do. And one of the primary situation I and others run into is that the chosen route turns out to be a bad one due to traffic, road closures, or accidents.

Apple Maps in iOS only lets you pick among possible routes when starting, although it will warn you and re-route while you’re underway. Google Maps for iOS has an in-progress re-routing option that isn’t as obvious, based on reader email.

While you’re actively following a route, tap the icon at the bottom of Google Maps that looks like a fork in the road with the left path dotted and one right path in black. It brings up an overview of the map showing alternatives and the estimated time difference compared to the current map.

These alternatives are highlighted in gray and using a thinner line compared to the blue (and traffic-colored) thicker main path. Tap a gray path and it becomes your route.

mac911 google maps alt routes IDG

Google Maps provides alternate paths on demand.

Google will also suggest and let you cancel a faster route if one occurs while you’re underway. If you have continuous audible directions enabled or alerts turned on, Google Maps lets you tap a Dismiss button for a short period of time while a progress bar fills across the screen. This alert typically appears when your current route hits a significant slowdown.

Now, you don’t want to turn your attention to tapping a target and a map if you’re actively driving. I’m sure any Macworld reader is sophisticated enough to know they should pull over, be a stop light, or be stopped in traffic for long enough to shift attention briefly.

If you’re re-routed and weren’t able to tap the Dismiss button, wait until it’s safe to tap the alternative routes button, and reset your path to the original.

Unfortunately, Google won’t let you disable automatic re-routing, but if you use Google offline maps and turn off cellular access for Google, you can simulate this!

  • Tap the Google Maps menu button, tap Offline Maps, and tap Custom Map. Then you can select an area and tap Download. (Setting a route downloads part of a map, but not all of it reliably.)

  • In iOS’s Settings app, tap Cellular > Google Maps to disable cellular downloads, which prevents updates during a trip, but also disables traffic information.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by a Macworld reader.

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