Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hands on with the New Google Maps

I got my invite through today to connect to the new Google Maps. Colour me f**king impressed!

By far and away the stand-out feature in the new Google Maps is the integration with Google Earth  - and Google Maps users no longer need a plug-in to view Google Earth imagery in Google Maps. But so what? - With all due respects to my friends at the Google Earth Blog I've always thought that 3d maps are a bit of a sideshow when it comes to online maps.

But what a sideshow it is! Google Maps now has real-time cloud overlays and, if you zoom out, it also has real-time sun, moon and star imagery! As I almost said before, colour me f**cking amazed.

This imagery is of course stunning and will be important to a significant number of Google Maps users - but for most users it will still remain a sideshow. The majority of Google Maps users, in their day-to-day use of Google Maps, will be far more interested in the basics of finding locations, finding local businesses and getting directions.

Well you know I am biased but there is simply no competition. Google's huge, no really - unbelievably huge - data of local businesses, public transit and nearly everyone's individual search patterns means that no other map provider can come close to offering anything close to the new Google Maps.

Open Street Maps may have far better map data in many parts of the world, Waze may be able to provide far better direction data in many locations, and numerous sites might be able to offer you better local business reviews. However no other online map provider can give you anywhere near the whole package that is the new Google Maps. It simply delivers in nearly every department you want from an online map!

Of course this review is just scratching at the surface. One of the big selling points of the new Google Maps is that every user gets their own map. Google Maps now responds to every user's favourite locations, search patterns and the behaviour of their friends on Google+. I have a feeling that this is going to freak out a few tech-savy users. However most users are simply just not going to notice that their map is tailored to their needs and the technophiles are probably going to love it anyway.

Well I'm biased, I am a technophile, and I do love it!

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