Google announced changes to its maps product during the I/O. The new maps are supposed to be even more efficient and intuitive in addition to having a good and uncluttered design. I received a mail today morning informing me that I was being given access to the new maps.
First off, the new Maps are beautifully simple and elegant. The color are better and the symbols and place markers have been tweaked to look better.The map now covers your whole screen as opposed to the previous layout. This makes it a very engaging experience. Besides this, there are new features in terms of search and social integration.
You can now search straight from the floating search bar on the top left hand corner of the map. You can search for categories like transit options, directions, food, businesses etc. The search is integrated with your Google+ account. Besides normal search, you can also choose to view results from the people you have in your social circles. The search bar also shows you helpful information in a card styled drop-down.
The explore tab at the bottom of the map is designed for you to check out images of places in that area. These images are user generated are most probably sourced from Google+ from available public images which are geo-tagged.
3. Google Earth
The previous maps did have an option for satellite view. This is present and refined in the new Maps. There is a small box at the the bottom left hand corner which is labeled Earth (Google Earth) which gives you satellite imagery of the whole place, much like Google Earth. You can do many fun things in this mode. You can change the perspective of the viewing angle and see the map in 3D (Well, almost). In some areas, you will get to see 3D buildings. I couldn’t find any in Mumbai though, but I did see some in Boston. Besides this, there is streetview which helps you to virtually travel on the streets of a particular location. Street view is not available for all locations.
Overall, the maps are damn good! They are much better than the previous iteration in terms of speed of usage. They have a superb design language and everything is neat and clean. The redesign follows the new Google design theme which we first saw in Google Now. This flat design approach is refreshing. The new maps are more intelligent and offer some great contextual information. Google Maps has leapfrogged miles ahead of its nearest competitors with this design refresh and feature update. Let us see what Google improved next.