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Google Maps lists were getting useless, then emojis came along

I can now label my lists with different icons and easily spot different places.

Published onSeptember 10, 2023

google maps emoji lists
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

I love using Google Maps lists to bookmark my favorite and essential spots. They’ve been incredibly useful while discovering Paris after my move here, planning various trips, and keeping tabs on all the cool spots around the world that I hope to see one day. But if you use lists as much as I do, you hit a brick wall: Nondescript blue dots everywhere on your map.

As I added more and more places to my different Paris and world lists, I noticed they were becoming useless overall, especially on the relatively small screen of my Android phone. Is this dot a restaurant I’ve been to or one I want to go to? Is it a free garden or a paid exhibition? A Lebanese restaurant or a store that sells Italian products? All blue dots, all indistinguishable from each other.

Google Maps lists were becoming indistinguishable blue dots littering your map view.

It got so bad that I started hiding and showing lists on demand to be able to make sense of the madness. And forget about trip planning, I became a frequent user of Wanderlog because I could color-code and pick descriptive icons for each list in every trip in that app.

But Google Maps recently rolled out a simple yet fantastic update for every list power-user: emojis. You can now assign an emoji icon to every Maps list by tapping Edit > Edit icon. That sounds ridiculous until you realize that it solves the list visibility problem altogether.

My bakeries got a 🥖 symbol, my food stores a 🥫, and the pastry shops a 🍰. I gave my favorite Spanish restaurants the 🇪🇸 flag and the Lebanese ones a 🇱🇧 flag. The restaurants and cafes I’ve spotted on Instagram and that I want to visit get a 🤤, the free Parisian spots to enjoy some nature or culture are marked with a coin 🪙, and so on.

Every hobby, interest, or place has an emoji to depict it. Use them to make your lists easily distinguishable on your map.

No matter your hobbies or interests, there should be an emoji for that. Gardens ⛲️, parks 🌲, museums 🎨, theatres 🎭, pubs 🍺, music venues 🎶, coffee shops ☕️, running tracks 🏃, kids playgrounds 🛝, skate parks 🛹, gyms 🏋️, shopping departments 🛍️, doctors and pharmacies 🩺, and even public toilets 🚾; almost everything has an emoji to depict it if you think about it. And you can apply that to your lists to distinguish them from each other.

When all else fails, or if you consider emojis too childish for your liking, you can always throw 🔴 🟡 🔵 🟢, 🟫 🟧 🟪 ⬛️, or 1️⃣ 2️⃣ 3️⃣ 4️⃣ to color code or number your lists — something that wasn’t possible with Google Maps’s old blue-dot-for-all approach. Consider them labels or tags if you don’t want to think of them as emoji.

It’s a small change, yes, but emojis have made Maps lists a lot more manageable for me now. The madness has icons now and they’re so easy to spot, no matter the zoom level of the map. It’s a lot easier to look at different icons than to tap on each blue dot to see what it is or zoom far enough to display its name.

When I’m planning a Maps route, I can quickly glance to see if there’s any place nearby on my to-do list or if I can swing by a regional produce store to pick up some Italian or Lebanese products. When I’m wandering around Paris, I can check my current location on Maps and take a quick look to find free gardens or museums nearby to visit. Now if only Google Maps would allow me to hide random icons when I zoom in, that’d be fantastic.

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