When the new Google Maps made its debut at this year's Google I/O conference, we were impressed. It's beautiful, immersive, interactive — and it's now available on iPhone, iPad,and Android. For early adopters, the new Google Maps on the web is also open for all to try.
The new Google Maps arrived last week for Android users, introducing recommendation and search engine Explore, a new tablet design, a 5.0 star rating system for reviews, and Google Offers. While offline maps are no longer available in the update, typing "OK Maps" in the search box will make that viewing area accessible later.
The most significant addition is incident reporting, which allows drivers to see and report accidents, road blockages, and spills on the highway. User-generated traffic conditions was a feature popularized by Waze, which Google recently acquired for $1.3 billion.
The iOS app, which was released yesterday, builds on some of the features introduced for Android and includes the first full-size Google Maps experience on the iPad. Bikers finally get turn-by-turn directions and navigation for bike paths in this update. Like the Android app, iPhones and iPads also now have incident reporting, Explore, Google Offers, and Zagat reviews.
Here's why we're loving the next generation of Google Maps:
1. It looks great - The map itself is more textured, more shaded, and more colored than before, so you can really see elevation and environmental differences around the world. Blues and greens are richer, more vivid, and easier to see.
2. It's immersive - The search bar is now tucked away in the upper left-hand corner, which allows the map to be as full-screen and immersive as possible.
3. It gets smarter with time - Personalization is the name of the game when it comes to the latest iteration of Google Maps. You set standard locations, like home and work, but it's the personal landmarks that make the map useful. These landmarks are restaurants or other places you frequent. Maps can suggest similar places to you and get better at recommendations over time.
4. It's more interactive - Search results appear right on the map, instead of in a list. Results are fully labeled with the type of business (restaurant? park?), its name, and a summary of what it is. Click to expand even more information, like operating hours, contact information, Zagat ratings, and more.
5. It really gives you the sense of a place - Using 3D mapping technology and user-generated photos, the new Maps shows you what a place actually looks like from the ground, not just an aerial view.
Give the new mobile offerings for Google Maps a spin and let us know: do you like the new look?