New Google Maps Beta Photo Tour


This is our new Google maps features photo tour (2013).

We were invited to preview and test Google’s new maps beta interface yesterday, and we went through and created a whole photo tour, talking about what we liked, and what we didn’t. The full review is coming soon, but for now, enjoy the photo gallery of Google Maps 2013.

Below is the text from our photo tour. Each headline indicates a new photo.

Welcome To The New Google Maps

Currently, the new maps is invite-only. The browser limitations on the new maps are a bit disappointing (many features don’t work in the latest Safari, Firefox, or Internet Explorer).

This is particularly annoying because the current Chrome is such a RAM hog, that I can’t even keep it open. With only a few windows open, it shudders, occupying nearly 7 gigabytes of RAM.

The New Google Maps Interface

Simply put, the interface of the new maps is awesome. Gone is the giant white bar, stealing valuable screen real estate. Every function can be done straight from that white bar, and it’s close to instantaneous.  The new coloring, resembling Apple’s maps, is snazzy as well.

Finding the Best

The new Google Maps unfortunately still takes all context literally. I was expecting it to pick up some cognitive abilities from Google’s Now service, perhaps allowing it to understand phrases like “best” or “closest”.

No dice. On the bright side, sorting by top results and top reviewers does allow for the same functionality, albeit a bit more challenging to do.

Also a positive is the Circles feature, allowing you to take recommendations from friends, and share with your circles as well. I like the added social element.

Easy Access Features

Another fantastic addition to maps is a variety of shortcuts. Simply clicking on the white bar allows for instant traffic help, biking maps, public transportation, and directions. Many of these features are new to the online version of maps, or required a lot of work to do previously.

A bit Confused…

The instant results need some work (especially given that this is their own example). When searching for sushi in Boston, it came up with results in Florida, Italy, Switzerland, and Grenoble, but oddly enough not Boston (a major US city).

On the bright side, upon pressing the search button, it brought up results in Boston right away, displayed graphically on a map of the city.

Graphically Displayed Sites

One of maps’s prior weaknesses was that when searching, everything on the map was labelled with a letter (i.e “A”) and you had to look at the key to the right to figure out what anything was. Keys are certainly more functional on real maps, than digital ones.

On the new Google maps, everything is displayed graphically. Every place is labeled with name and category, getting rid of the need to constantly refer to keys. Great improvement there.

And Clicking Things is Better Too

Numerous enhancements to finding things fast have been made. First of all, simply double clicking anywhere on the map pulls up the address. Double clicking a restaurant pulls up reviews, menus, contact info, hours. It’s a fantastic integration of the formerly underutilized Zagat acquisition.

Finally, maps is now gesture based. New controls of the map make it much more touch/tablet friendly, and that’s certainly a positive.

One-touch Street View

After finding a location (by double clicking), getting directions is literally as easy as pressing one button. Another one touch feature is streetview. One click allows you to enter the new street view.

Google Street View is better than ever, because the expanded Window size means that you have an absolutely massive view of everything. I did some virtual street photography (see later).

Enhanced Google Earth

Google Earth is now built entirely into the new Google Maps, and available with a single click (if you have a supported browser – see photo 1). This is a great addition of a fantastic project. Another progressive step was the addition of 3D imagery, and building, which were previously only available in Google’s desktop earth app.

Photo Tours

Photo Tours of Famous sites are very nicely integrated into the new operating system.

Street[view] Photography

This is a tribute to Humans of New York, and the legendary band of street photographers it represents. This was just spotted in the new streetview.

new google maps

Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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