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How to navigate using your Samsung Galaxy Watch

Google Maps makes it easy to find new places from your wrist.
By
October 18, 2022
samsung galaxy watch navigation google maps icon
Andy Walker / Android Authority

Samsung’s Wear OS smartwatches are getting more useful features as the platform matures. One of our favorites is Google Maps support directly on your wrist, allowing you to navigate easily. But how do you use it? Below, we explain how you can use your Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 4 models to navigate your locale.

QUICK ANSWER

Open Google Maps, search for a destination or select a favorite place from the list provided, select your mode of transport, and initiate navigation mode. The Galaxy Watch will now offer turn-by-turn directions.

JUMP TO KEY SECTION


How to enable location on the Galaxy Watch

Before navigating all around town, you’ll need to activate your Galaxy Watch’s location features.

  • Swipe up from your watch’s home screen, then tap the Settings icon.
  • Scroll to Location, then tap on it.
  • Toggle Location on.
    • You can also improve accuracy by tapping Google Location Accuracy, then toggling on Improve Location Accuracy. This feature isn’t necessary and could increase battery drain, but it uses mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks to triangulate your position better.

See also: How to plan a road trip with Google Maps


How to use Google Maps on the Galaxy Watch

Thanks to Wear OS, Google Maps now comes baked-in and ready to use on the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 4 lines. There are two ways to select a destination from your wrist. We’ll cover both below.

Input a destination manually

  • Open Google Maps by swiping up from your watch’s home screen. Tap the Google Maps icon.
  • Once in the app, tap on the microphone or keyboard icon.
    • Depending on your choice, input a destination by talking to your watch or typing it in using the on-screen keyboard.
    • Tap the magnifying glass icon to initiate the search.
  • A list of options will now appear on the screen, complete with the distance from your current location and the physical address, if available.
  • Tap on a destination and select the walking, cycling, or driving option as the mode of transport.
  • Once you’ve tapped on an option, a navigation screen will appear on your watch. This will also open Google Maps in navigation mode on your phone.
  • Scroll down on your watch screen for additional settings, a toggle to activate Vibrations, and the Show Map option to bring up the map on your wrist.

Select a favorite or recent destination

  • Open Google Maps by swiping up from your watch’s home screen. Tap the Google Maps icon.
  • Once in the app, scroll down to reveal a list of recent searches or favorite destinations in Google Maps.
  • Tap on a destination and select the walking, cycling, or driving option as the mode of transport.
  • Once you’ve tapped on an option, a navigation screen will appear on your watch. This will also open Google Maps in navigation mode on your phone.

Two other useful features are lurking within Google Maps on the Galaxy Watch.

  • Tap the blue map icon on Google Maps’ main screen to display a simple map showing your current location and surroundings. It’s handy if you’re just wondering where you are and aren’t necessarily traveling to a new destination.
  • Scroll down on the Google Maps main screen and tap Settings > Auto-launch.
    • You can toggle on Google Maps’ ability to auto-launch navigation if it detects that you’re walking, cycling, or driving.

See also: How to save locations on Google Maps | How to save a route on Google Maps


Google Maps alternatives on the Galaxy Watch

citymapper galaxy watch
Andy Walker / Android Authority

Google Maps might not be for everyone, and that’s okay. The app is still in its infancy on Wear OS, but we expect Google to add a few more features in the coming months.

For those who can’t wait or want something a little more tailored to their tastes, you can try the below mapping and navigation apps to improve your Galaxy Watch navigation experience:

  • Citymapper: An excellent alternative for those living in select cities in North America and Europe. The app provides more detailed public transport information than Google Maps, so it’s a better bet if you aren’t walking, driving, or cycling to a new destination. You can only prompt Citymapper to take you home or take you to work from the watch. You’ll need to initiate navigation to a different destination via your phone.
  • Maps by Trackwear.io: As simple as you can get in name and functionality, Maps displays an OpenStreetMap overlay of your current location. That’s it. If all you want is a map on your arm but don’t want to use Google Maps, this is an alternative.

See also: The best GPS apps and navigation apps for Android


FAQs

Yes, if you start navigation on your phone you can follow directions on your Galaxy Watch. We find this easier than searching for destinations on the watch itself.

Yes. If you stop navigation on your watch, Google Maps will close navigation on your phone, and vice versa.

No, not yet. Google has noted that offline maps support is coming to Google Maps later this year.

For now, yes. You do need your phone to use Google Maps navigation on your watch. However, Google confirmed that it’s working on standalone navigation support later this year.