In Google Maps, users can use a special code to discover specific locations in a targeted manner and without complicated coordinates. These “plus codes” can uniquely identify and find almost any place in the world – the classic address cannot keep up. Here we explain how this little-known feature works.
Google’s map service Google Maps hides a function that has so far been overlooked or completely ignored by many users: the plus codes. These codes were conceived as a so-called Open Location Code in a Google office in Zurich as early as 2014 – they are intended to simplify navigation around the world and, among other things, have what it takes to make addresses superfluous.
Each plus code consists of six or seven letters and numbers as well as a place name. Alternatively, there is a notation with ten letters and digits, which makes it unnecessary to specify a location. Four letters of a plus initially assign a location to a rough grid of 100 × 100 kilometers; the letters, by the way, define the location more closely – a separate code is created for each 14 × 14 meters square area.
In all countries in which Plus Codes are available, Google Maps shows the code of the respective location in a detailed view. In the apps for Android and iOS, all you have to do is tap the code to copy it to the clipboard. Conversely, the search function can be used to search for a plus code in order to immediately jump to the right place. On the web, Google offers its own version of Google Maps, which shows the code of the selected location after clicking on the map.
The sharing of the plus codes works like this: Google Maps users can simply tap the blue point in the map service that shows their own location, whereupon a pop-up menu opens. Here, users can now tell others where they are at the moment with a simple tap on “Share your Location”.
Google Maps: Plus Codes replace classic addresses
Plus codes are made up of ten characters – it becomes shorter if a place name is also given.
Plus codes are useful wherever there are no (sufficiently precise) addresses. On the one hand, these can be secluded areas of land, on the other hand, parks, forests, or large squares. In all of these locations, Plus Codes make it easier to precisely transmit an exact location without having to resort to bulky coordinates. If you want to meet friends in a large open space, you can specify the location with a plus code.
According to Google, around 25 percent of humanity, i.e. around two billion people, either do not have a classic address in street + house number format or have an address that is very difficult to find.