How to Use Multi-Stop Routes in Google Maps Navigation

Adding stops in Google Maps 7 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Adding stops in Google MapsAdding stops in Google MapsAdding stops in Google MapsAdding stops in Google MapsAdding stops in Google MapsAdding stops in Google Maps
Google Maps is perhaps one of the most complex navigation solutions. In addition to the essential feature package, it also comes with several options that many people don’t even know exist, including support for multiple stops.
Google Maps allows users to configure routes that include multiple stops, so the navigation app wouldn’t require reconfiguration when arriving at a destination.

This feature was supposed to help in a wide variety of scenarios. For example, if you work in the delivery industry, you can plan all stops in advance and then configure them in Google Maps.

Google Maps also supports route planning on a computer. The process is more straightforward given the increased screen estate, and once completed, the route can be transferred to the mobile device where all settings are retained.

The multi-stop route support in Google Maps comes with several pros and cons.

Launched back in 2016, the multi-stop directions are provided based on the destination order that you configure within the app. Once you arrive at an address, it’s removed from the list and the navigation to the next entry begins.

This is the logical approach, but Google Maps is not yet capable of ordering the destinations. As such, Google Maps doesn't look at the defined destination and reorder the entries based on the distance between them. In other words, you need to do all the job.

Adding stops in Google Maps
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
To better understand why this is such a big deal, just think of someone who works in the same delivery business. Google Maps can’t generate the most efficient routes by just looking at all destinations configured in the app, but only search for the fastest route to the next address.

If the required stops span across the entire city, you need to plan the journey in advance to make sure you configure them in the right order.

I’m told Google is already looking into an update on this front. The feature would be powered by AI, which would be able to analyze all destinations and then configure an itinerary that makes more sense on this front. The distance between stops would be the shortest, and users will only have to configure the addresses.

Other than that, the only main drawback, at least for some users, is the number of supported stops. Google Maps only allows users to configure 9 addresses, whereas alternatives like Apple Maps increased the maximum number to 15.

The default value is already enough for most users, but if we look at the same example as above, using Google Maps for delivery might not be too convenient with this restriction in place.

How to set up multi-stop routes

Google has developed using the multi-stop route support to be as straightforward as possible.

After the app is launched, search for one of the addresses in the box at the top of the screen. Tap the directions button, and you should now see the recommended routes to the destination. By default, Google Maps shows the fastest route, but starting in 2021, the eco-friendly alternative is also generated.

Adding stops in Google Maps
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Tap the three-dot menu in the top-right corner and you should now see an “Add stop” button. A new field is now available in the itinerary at the top of the screen. You can search for an address and let Google Maps generate a new route preview.

You can add a maximum of 9 stops. Google Maps will then display the total trip time, and the app allows users to reorder the addresses with drag and drop. Tap the hamburger button (the three-line icon next to each address) to move the items up and down.

Multi-stop routes in Apple Maps

Apple Maps allows up to 15 stops for each route. The feature was announced last year as part of the most recent iOS update, and it is available on both iPhones and Mac computers.

Apple Maps also allows users to plan routes and configure stops on a PC. Users wouldn’t have to do all the planning on the small screen of their iPhones, and turning to a computer to get a better look at the map would make the process more convenient.

Apple Maps can’t automatically order the destinations either.

The Google Maps feature is available on both iPhone and Android, and once the multiple stops are configured, the navigation is also available on CarPlay and Android Auto.

For the time being, the Mountain View-based search giant does not offer an option to configure multiple stops on Android Auto and CarPlay. This means that all the planning must be conducted on the mobile device, and when connected to the head unit in the car, the provided navigation would take into account all the settings.

At this point, neither Google nor Apple is working on bringing multi-stop configuration options to the mirrored interface in the car.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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