Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wikipedia is Back on Google Maps

Google Maps should be a tool for adventure and discovery not a tool for hiring bloody expensive private hire cars. Today's decision to re-introduce Wikipedia onto Google Maps is therefore one of the few correct decisions Google has made with the new look Google Maps.

In my opinion one of the biggest mistakes Google Maps made was removing the Wikipedia layer from both the classic and new look Google Maps. Thankfully Wikipedia is back, if only on the new Google Maps.

One of the things I really hate about the new Google Maps is its personalized points of interest. It adds places to the map that it knows I frequently visit. In other words it will show me things on the map which I already know exist, which I know how to get to and really don't need a map for. It decides to map the things I really don't want to see on the map at the expense of not showing information which it has decided I'm not interested in. Wrong, wrong wrong!

One of the glorious things about Google Maps is that it has always allowed us to explore the world through the map layer, turn on satellite view and view incredibly detailed imagery of the world and even provide us with an immersive experience of places we might never get to visit in person by switching to Street View. With the Wikipedia layer we could also click on places that we find on the map and learn something new about the world. It turns Google Maps into a wonderful tool for discovery and adventure. Now that's what a map should be.

The new Wikipedia layer on Google Maps is called 'Quick Facts'. If you now click on one of the small circles on the map, which indicate points of interest, the Quick Facts for the location will be displayed under the search box. The Quick Facts also appear when you search for a point of interest.

At last there is something to cheer about on the new Google Maps. Let's hope Google continue to turn Google Maps back into the world's most amazing tool for exploration and discovery.

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