Maps Google Update

Google Update

Looks like, I have been dozing off lately and haven't kept up. There is an update from Google that I discovered only this afternoon - the new Google Map Service (Thanks to Aditya Mahajan). It kicks ass BIG time! Forget ever using Mapquest or Yahoo maps again. The design is quite revolutionary and it's so easy to use and is a great rethink on how online maps should be organised. It's full of neat features and the best part is that this is still a beta version.

The Map
Ability to pan a map is so much more natural than having images painfully load. Also, everything you need is on one page and you can enter search terms like you would ask a person,'Ann Arbor to Chicago' or 'Good indian restaurants' it won't complain. It does not really have intelligent software to sort the terms 'good' and 'bad' ones. As a matter of fact, 'bad indian restaurants' brings up the same list. That's not the point. The point is that intuitive searches phrases are supported. No need to type stuff in separate boxes for place, city or state. (Quite upset that Mapquest did not even find my home without detailed zip code info when I was comparing the two. So much for Mapquest!). The boxes are also very usefully and simply labeled,
What? and Where? Also it immediately shows an inset for getting directions to and from that point.

Local Search
This is probably where it scores the most points. Want to find the nearest Wal-Mart? Hit 'Walmart'. Another neat feature is that the detailed map shows up as an inset map on the main page and it has address and the website address, so you can directly navigate to the website if you wish.

Liked the little blurbs that they use for the 'start' and 'end'. You can bring up inset maps for every stage of your trip by clicking on the numbers. If you want to reverse directions just hit the the double arrows in the middle.

What really kicks ass!
If you are like me, and hate to even move a few inches to use a mouse you'll love the keyboard shortcuts. They support zooming 'in/out', panning. I am going to suggest that they come up with some more, though for now this is a step in the right direction.

What we still want
It does have features still missing. For example, being able to remember history of your previous searches, create a profile, ability to route through multiple locations (a feature which I feel should be essential to all map engines), multiple options for routes or the ability to select maps through minor roads and not Interstates. Popping up rest areas or gas stations on long trips. But YEAH! This is it!

Million Dollar Question
Is Google taking over the world?

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