Google recently announced the new Google Maps. This hasn’t been universally rolled out yet, but you can request an invite here. The redesign for the desktop is highly functional (with a good internet connection), cleaner, and smarter. The Google team has designed it to have the same ‘cards’ feel as the Google Now app. Essentially, it looks nice! I’ll review some of the best, new features, but it’s hard to know where to start!
Personal Location Cards
As far as I can tell, you have to be signed into your Google account to access the new maps. This make searching more convenient. One of my favorite things about the new maps is how easy it is to get directions from saved locations, contacts, or preset cards. Once signed into my browser, Google already knows where I live and work (editable) and assigns icons to these locations. This can make getting directions easier.
When I want to go somewhere, I simply enter the name of the location in the new search box. The map zooms out slightly to show the best results. I click my desired location, click a preset “Work” or “Home” card, and get instant directions! Another option is to click the destination, directions icon, and anywhere on the map. I can also get directions from anywhere to anywhere by clearing the search box, clicking the map, then directions, and then anywhere else on the map.
I can also type words to trigger personal location cards. For example, when I type in “airport,” I see red airport icons next to all the airports in view. I select the airport, click the directions icon, and then type “work” to get instant directions from my work to the selected airport. I can also type “work to LAX” or “home to LA” to get directions to Los Angeles, including fare prices! There is a link populated in the information card to Google Flights. Super cool!
On top of that, you can type in the name of any of your Google contacts that have an associated physical address to get directions directly to their home. This works great on the Google Maps mobile app (and soon Google Now, no doubt) for navigation to contacts’ houses. If your information is setup correctly with Google, all this jazz comes together quite nicely.
If you’ve noticed, there are no more custom categories for Google Maps; everything has a bucket. The reasons for the buckets become apparent when you see the little map icons that look strikingly similar to Apple Map’s icons. Each of these categories is associated with keywords, so if you search “hotel,” the map shows all lodging; search “breakfast,” and your results show all morning-type restaurants, etc. Here are some of the categories I’ve found based on searches:
- Shopping/Service business
See for Yourself!
I left the most obvious features for you to try, like the picture gallery and overlaid search box with card results. And just for fun, if you think you have a fast internet connection, try populating the Earth view of a large city. When you realize how much data there is, you might find your justification for getting Google Fiber.