Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Always Avoid Tolls - Android Workaround - Google Maps

Project Status: Dream Came True
Original Post: Google Maps - Always Avoid Tolls
Update: Google Maps - Always Avoid Tolls - New Feature Rolled Out

While it is still disappointing that there is no built-in setting or solution to always avoid tolls in Google Maps, there is actually a recent workaround for Android users which may get you by for the time being. This may be of help to anyone wishing there was a sticky option or a persistent setting within the Maps app to allow a preference of always avoiding tolls.

If you are interested in seeing a built-in solution straight from the development team working on this product, I highly recommend that you visit the Google Maps and Earth Help Forum and check out an on going topic titled "Make 'avoid tolls' option sticky - otherwise directions are wrong". Once there, find the option to "Vote up this post" by clicking the counter located on the main topic posed way back in the year 2013. That will add yourself to the many others that have shown the development team they hope this will one day become a part of the product.

Until that day comes, here is the super simple workaround. The trick is that you use the "Directions" widget and set an option there to always avoid tolls for a single address. You will find this may not be the best workaround for every use, but in some cases it is a nice trick to know. Follow these steps or watch the YouTube video below of the exact same steps.

Setting up the Widget:
  1. Find the address you want to navigate to and long press it or find other means to copy it to your clipboard.
    (You can skip this step and type it in yourself later, but the hard part about that is you have no way to easily search for an address while setting up the widget)
  2. Scroll through your widgets until you find one you can add to your home screen named "Directions".
  3. Long press it until you are able to drop it somewhere on your home screen.

  1. In the "Choose destination" field long press and paste the address you saved off earlier.
    (If you skipped step one, you can type any address in and as long as you have an internet connection it will try to help you with auto suggestions)
  2. Add the "Shortcut name" as you would like the icon to appear on your home screen, such as "work" or "home".
  3. Then the part we are all here for, go ahead and proudly check off that "Avoid tolls" box.
  4. Press the Save button and you are all set to go.

Here are the exact same steps in a YouTube video:

When it works and when it doesn't:

This is somewhat inconvenient for those one-off or on the fly address usages, in those situations it is actually easier to use the avoid tolls option in the Maps app itself. However; if you are like me and want to frequently pull up navigation to some usual places, such as my home address, in an effort to check traffic conditions, then this might be perfect for you.

It would also be a great trick to use when you are looking up an address for something and know you will end up navigating to it later on. For example; I often look up information the night before or while I am not yet in my vehicle. If I already have the address pulled up, I go ahead and save it off using the widget for when I actually travel. That way I don't have to worry about fighting to find the avoid tolls option while trying to drive.

Not a solution that works for you? Don't give up just yet.

First, make sure you go to the product forums and click the counter to "Vote up this post" once you are there. That will help a lot to get the wheels in motion and make this dream come true, but don't hold your breath. There is also a small gray star next to the title of the topic, click it to turn it yellow. I have heard that stars may help the most to bring the importance of this issue to the attention of the development team.

Next, you may want to try out the Waze app. I have not used it myself but many other people have suggested it to me. Google bought out Waze and appears to be slowly incorporating parts of its technology into their own Maps app. People say the Waze app has a built-in option to always avoid tolls like we are wanting in the Maps app. If you happen to try it out please let me and others know how that goes in the comments below.

I always love the great work the teams at Google do with these apps and other products. Hopefully one day I'll be able to post on here that they added this feature right in to the Maps app, but until then I hope you found something here that helps you along.

Update on June 12, 2017:

Glad to announce that for a few months now this feature has been included in the Google Maps app and is now another pipe dream that came true. Learn more here in the blog post about the new feature.