Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Major Google Maps Redesign

Google Maps has just undergone a major redesign of the user interface. The big changes are to the controls and to the way that Street View is displayed.

In the picture on the right the new map control is shown (on the left) next to the old map control (on the right). The new map control now more closely resembles the Google Earth (and Google Earth Browser) tools.

The Street View button has been replaced with a 'peg man' icon on the top of the zoom control. If you drag 'peg man' over the map and Street View is available the blue polylines will appear on the map and a small window will show the current Street View. If you drop 'peg man' on the map the Street View opens and takes over the whole map window.

If you navigate via the Street View arrows your location is now shown in the small map in the bottom right of the screen. The 'report a concern' link is now at the bottom of the screen (before you had to press help before it appeared in the help information window). This should make it easier for anyone to report an inappropriate Street View image.

A split screen view of half Street View and half map works particularly well with Google Maps Driving Directions. When you are in Driving Directions just click on the camera icon to go to the split screen view. Finally, when in the map view and you have zoomed in as far as it seems you can go if you press the plus button on the zoom control you will be taken to the Street View.

I really like the new design. The number of buttons at the top right of the map screen was beginning to make Google Maps look a little clustered. Removing the Street View button from the top right helps give the map a cleaner look. Also making Google Maps more consistent with the design of Google Earth just makes sense (I wonder how long until a button for the Google Earth Browser view becomes available).

The navigation of Street View is maybe a little less intuitive than it was before. This could be why Google have released this video explaining how to navigate Street View under the new design.

Google have now posted about the update on the Google LatLong Blog.
Google Maps for South Korea has gone live again. I guess they put it up with the old UI and then had to take it down again to quickly switch to the new UI :)



Aaron Spence said...

Whoo Hoo, Google have copied our format for large panoramas over maps in Panedia ;)

I was thinking of copying theirs when streetview launched, way back when ie putting the large panorama (virtual tour) in a big marker window over the map, but that's a messy way to do it, wasting a lot of screen realestate that could be given to the panorama. They've obviously realised that too.

The split screen map/pano option is great too. We've been doing that for a long time at http://pano.panedia.com but we don't have the option to change the map size there... it's been on our list of things to do since the beginning.
It's more reminiscent of http://mapjack.com

Having gloated about nothing, I'll say I like the new look a lot. The new zoom controls etc look good too. I am finding a bug in Chrome where the pano disappears to a black screen when changing he map size or closing the left panel.

Thanks Aaron Spence.

Anonymous said...

Well, some of the new Street View functionality stinks! Why can I no longer see all of the blue lines on a map and quickly pull up street views wherever I want?? Having to constantly drag the little man from the top left is ridiculous. Also, why can't I minimize the map window at the bottom right of the screen while in Street View? Geez, talk about extra clutter...

I'd also like to know why the iPod Touch didn't get Street View with the 2.2 firmware!

Keir Clarke said...

@Anonymous - I think the new Street View is a little less intuitive. The peg man icon becomes coloured when Street View is available somewhere on the map. If you then drag him around the blue lines appear on the map.

Anonymous said...

Needs a lot more clicks than before; yes the image is bigger but that's it; everything else is more hassle to use. And why can't I see the blue lines anymore like before and only when i drag the little man around? Plus gives me some weird Flash error that I have to click ok on to make it work. Not well thought out. Harder to use.

Anonymous said...

Don't like the new view at all. The old view was terrific. This view is slower and way less user friendly.

Anonymous said...

the only benefit i see (so far) is the larger view...otherwise, it's more difficult to maneuver and is definitely slower moving down streets (possibly because of a larger image having to load?).

hopefully they'll work out the bugs as time goes on...but i do appreciate the larger image...looks really nice!

Anonymous said...

The new version stinks! It is difficult to navigate almost to the point where it is unusable. What moron in Google passed this one through. The older version was just fine and I loved it. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Google if you are reading this please bring back the old version!

Anonymous said...

Hiding street view in the unidentified little peg man is idiotic as Google Maps's original street view button did NOT 'dirty' up the screen as other seems to imagine it is now 'cleaned' up now by having removed the most basic rudementary site navigation scheme.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that the peg man doesn't function to make street views on the places I tried to find in Naples, Italy. Knowing the controlling powers there, could it be that there were some "restrictions" on showing street views in that city?

Keir Clarke said...

@anonymous At the moment I think Street View is only in Florence, Milan and Rome in Italy. My suspicions are that there will be a major push of Street View in Europe this year. So stay tuned.