At Google IO 2013, Google announced the new Google Maps they have been working on. It has been available for use for a while before then but not as easily accessible to the public. I finally got a try at it and have to say it is an update into the right direction.
The first thing you notice about the new Google Maps is the design. The map is now displayed over the full window / screen for larger viewing. The previous version of Google Maps allowed for almost full screen viewing when disabling the side bar, but the top search bar would still be visible. The search bar now is a floating search bar on the upper left. The new search bar shows places you are most likely to visit again, such as places you rated on Google Maps. I don’t see addresses I enter often appear so I am unsure if they will further expand the suggested addresses. Along with the suggested addresses, when you start typing an address it will better auto complete the address. It has faster loading times and will try to pair the address to locations closer to you for better results.
To switch views you now have to use the button on the bottom left. A nice little thing they did change is the “preview” of the other view shows the same location that are you currently viewing on your larger current view. They also did rename “Satellite” to “Earth” view. Along with Earth View, you can adjust the angle you view the real images from. There are 3 different angles, the default top down view, and then 2 tilted angles. The navigation settings are on the bottom right, such as rotate camera and change angle. Before you had to zoom in to change the tilt angle now you can toggle between them. The rotate option now turns at 90degree segments. Also the zoom in and out buttons are no longer a slider, they are just two buttons for zoom in and zoom out. Overall the new options are much cleaner and easier to navigate.
There are some nice new features, or altered features that make using Maps more useful and faster. The first one that I like is when you click on a house or building it will show its address (with a little click radiating animation). Alongside addresses you can now click “Street View” instead of having to drag the little navigator onto the street. It will also find the most appropriate view to see the house. For instance my house isn’t on street view, but it did navigate to a larger road that you can see my house from. Inside street view you cannot scroll wheel zoom out back to sky view. It locks you into street view which is nicer because I often zoom out too far and go back to the map. Also zooming in all the way doesn’t take you to street view, you have to click on the icon after clicking on the map. There is a back arrow that takes you back to the map from street view. Having a key assigned to go back to the map would be nice also, like ESC but it is not yet implemented
You can now set locations to save for Google Maps such as Home and Work Address. Now you are able to get address such as “Home to 1111 Some Road” without entering your full address. I wanted them to add this feature for so long, and am very glad it is finally here.
The directions it displays now are much clearer, with color coded traffic conditions, a clearer Step by Step view, and better path lines on the map. Alternate routes are also shown on the map but are a grey color opposed to the blue for the current selected path.
This isn’t a new feature, but screen shots now appear on the bottom of the screen along side the option to switch views. Also when searching for places you will see reviews and posts your friends on Google + made about that location. Google is integrating a lot of their services with Google Plus, and I feel like Google Maps is one of the better services to add Google Plus to.