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Google Maps 2013 - New User Interface & Google Earth

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

Summary

Google Maps 2013 - Routing

Of course, most of the time your head will not be up in the clouds, but down on the street so the new Google Maps has overhauled its routing system.

Happily this is one of the most satisfying aspects of the update. Click anywhere on the map and the search bar produces a card with the option for directions. This also happens when you search for a specific location.

Once you choose that you have the option to quickly route from ‘Home’ (more later), recently searched for locations, click again on the map to set your start point or search again manually.

Google Maps directions

You can click anywhere on the maps to start creating a route

In doing away with the side panel, all results are shown directly on the map with multiple route options and the distance and time shown on the plotted route. For shorter routes Maps also shows walking, public transport and driving options, allowing you to make snap decisions.

Backing this up are, of course, search bar cards allowing you to pick one specific mode of transport, get detailed directions or plan for an exact leaving time. All journey times take account of real-time traffic and congestion can be displayed on-screen with familiar green, orange, red and deep red used to highlight iterations from clear to very road heavy traffic respectively. This can only help Google’s Navigation app on Android.

Particularly useful additions include cycle routes in major cities (again a rolling out feature), the ability to visually break down how much of a public transport journey is walking at each end and the visualisation of public transport timetables on a scrolling grid.

Furthermore, when planning a route, or even clicking on a location on the map all the roads leading to it are subtly highlighted making routes easier to digest even before you start planning.

Google Maps public transport

A new visual mode shows how much walking your route includes

Interestingly, for longer trips Maps also includes flight information, travel times and ticket prices. Something which surely has significant flexibility to build airline partnerships.

One issue we do have, though, is roads in general stand out less on the new Google Maps. Major A-roads are now in orange, as opposed to green, and the orange and yellow smaller A-road colourings have been have been done away with completely in favour of white with side streets in light grey.

The downside is driving information is less clear at a glance (until you click on a point), but it looks better and the map is more readable when populated with businesses. It is a fair trade-off and one done for a specific reason…

Google Maps 2013 - Discovery

While the old Google Maps can search for service types, it merely dropped a lot of pins on a map and left you clicking around hopelessly trying to do research. This is something the new Google Maps tackles head on.

Now when you search for something the pin remains, but the name is displayed on the map and contextual cards beneath the search bar provide information about its opening hours, website and phone number, directions, pricing categories and reviews.

Google Maps french restaurant

Similar businesses near the one you're looking for populate the map - useful for discovering new venues.

Furthermore, you will also be shown other similar results nearby your search result. These are far more refined than before so, for example, specific restaurant types will be matched and their price brackets. You can even search by ‘set lunch menu’ or ‘all day breakfast’.

As such, it is a useful way to discover new places. Search for your favourite fairly priced Greek restaurant or speak easy bar in Soho and other fairly priced Greek restaurants or speak easy bars will populate the map at the same time. It is an excellent way to use existing knowledge to broaden your horizon.

We did find at times associated places can be hit or miss, but in general it is remarkably accurate. It's like having Spotify or Amazon’s ‘If you like this…’ recommendation systems brought to mapping.

Interestingly, Google plans to sell the Frommer’s travel guide service it bought last year back to its former owners, so it will be interesting to see how it plans to continue improving this functionality. Then again, Google also owns Zagat.

Paulo Pascoal

June 3, 2013, 11:52 am

When you type geographic coordinates the new map don't show the exact location, just one random point in the nearest street (in the old one you also had that but when you clicked a 2nd time you got a arrow with the real location). That functionality is very important for me and as such I reverted to the old version. Hope they fix it.
Also, in the old maps when picking the Pegman I could see immediately the areas where street view was available, now that's gone too...

Рон Джамин

February 21, 2014, 5:31 pm

This new map is terrible. Can't figure out how to use it. Google is screwing with too much. They ruined Youtube with their strong-arm force to make you use Google+. Frankly, I've been using Bing maps more often. Better aerial shots too.

Graham Steel

February 21, 2014, 9:58 pm

I use Google Maps all the time at work, and have found more disappointments than improvements with the new version. It is difficult to get a Google Street View of a precisely selected location. The old version allowed a split screen with Street View above and a Google Map showing Pegman at the current location below. Most disappointingly, the right-click menu has gone - I used "what's here" a lot, which showed the coordinates of the required map location - I notice that BIng Maps now does this rather well! I hope that Google restore these missing features.

Sean Reeves

February 25, 2014, 7:53 am

Why fix something that was not broken. It was great before now it slow, doesn't go where you want it, really jerky. Its Crap.

geezertomnc

March 11, 2014, 9:44 pm

What a waste!!! Nothing intuitive about it. It fades away. I can't move the map around. I'll go back to Yahoo.

Creagh Warren

March 12, 2014, 3:54 am

Unfortunately Google has traded speed for bloat - I hate the new version. Google are losing the plot, trying too hard to be feature rich and forgetting the usability and, of course, privacy, as we are seeing from the numerous legal actions against Google all around the world. They have lost sight of their users and focus only on their bank account.

Jason

March 15, 2014, 7:10 pm

The new version is terrible. I expect as with anything some adjustment when you need to get used to a new interface, but the performance is so bad, it's not worth using. I'm looking for any other decent map options I can find until this changes. Using mapquest as often as I can, and looking for more.

cultish

March 20, 2014, 5:49 pm

Messy, nausea inspiring, too much junk on the screen which you can't remove, and worse, while on google streets, as you turn, the images are distorted and stretched and it jumps all over the place and down side streets. Look at the cars on the street, they're all stretched out and store fronts are like a reverse fisheye lens. Terrible. Streets used to be so good, it was like standing in the scene, now it makes you feel sick.

mrshappy

March 21, 2014, 8:53 am

I absolutely hate the new version and I won't be using it any more, it's really difficult to use, especially the direction options. Also the streetview is distorted, part of the reason I used it in the past is to help me get a feel for a place I'm due to visit, because I can suffer panic attacks when I'm in a strange place, but you can't even look up to see what a building looks like with this version. Also you don't seem to have the option to click on a bus stop in order to find out about bus services anymore, obviously we all have to be driving now. The thumbnail images along the bottom of the screen are just annoying. It was fine before, why change it. Google seems to be intent on ruining the internet experience for everyone, first the ads popping up everywhere, now this. Let's hope others take full advantage of google's falling standards and lack of concern for the user to offer us some better options for everything that google once did well.

banditste600 .

March 28, 2014, 8:54 am

What was wrong with just a map that can give you the option to use street view to see where about you are and an info bar on the side that says the mileage to travel in total, the roads you will be using, even the estimated fuel usage was very handy!!!

Google has done EXACTLY the same as modern car manufacturers!!!
Your trying to make something so advanced that you don't have the correct technology for... so it has become unreliable!

we want something that looks good and works!
NOT what you have done here!!!

I WILL NOT BE USING GOOGLE MAPS ANYMORE!!!!!!

motorman

March 29, 2014, 10:30 am

The new google maps is rubbish if i cant stay with the older version i will use something else the new one is unusable and there is also no print option the person who decided to alter google maps should be sacked

Dave

April 7, 2014, 10:26 pm

The "my maps" with new version is HORRIBLE compared to old version. Author obviously did not spend any time with the new maps and fell for the "eye candy".

jennifer leslie

April 17, 2014, 6:45 am

Just awful! It annoys & frustrates me. Bring back the old one. Designed by a showoff not an end user & as a result no-one can use it. Wake up & smell the coffee Google!

sunsense

April 17, 2014, 1:54 pm

Doesn't work for me on linux and firefox 28.0.

The question mark and settings on the bottom doesn't select.

I have disabled ALL my addons and rebooted.

Its useless to me.

Typical...break working software.

I guess they learned it from the masters...Microsoft.

Fithian

April 21, 2014, 7:16 pm

Slooooooow.
I use Bing maps because Google Maps is so slow.

Jennifer Harkins

April 29, 2014, 5:55 pm

Why have so many roads with blue lines which were available in old street view no longer available. really disappointing and frustrating.

guita

May 15, 2014, 12:28 am

+I thought maybe it was me...Google maps is terrible...what in the world have you done....I hate it...its all over the place...back to mapquest....the onw question is "Why?"

Pit

May 25, 2014, 10:00 pm

Please change back to old version Google Maps or I will go to Bing!!!

The Duck

June 15, 2014, 2:59 pm

Go back to the old version NOW!! The new one is not good in any way just annoying. I used to love Google Maps but not any more.

votenoneoftheabove2

June 21, 2014, 9:50 am

This is worse than the new coca cola formula. This piece of crap is absolutely horrible. Flashearth.com is a hell of a lot better. Bing maps is also better. what the heck were they thinking when they designed this slow, nonintuative crap filled monster?

sybase46

June 26, 2014, 3:56 am

It takes a cluster of super computers to run it!!!!!!!!!!! Beyond ridiculous! Hey, lets take a completely excellent product and rebuild it! Thats American.. "INNOVATION" for you! If your not changing things even for the worse, your not innovating!

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