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Google Maps gets stunning makeover for Web, enhancements to mobile

Dan Moren | May 16, 2013
Google Maps gets an eye-popping makeover for its venerable Web interface as well as bringing improvements to its mobile apps.

That level of integration with social is the other ingredient in the revamp of Google Maps. Seefeld stressed that the maps are intended to be personal: When you are logged in to Google Maps, you're shown locations that are important to you; the experience even improves as you continue to use it. For example, it might show you restaurants you've searched for, or places recommended to you by your Google+ friends.

The information is also contextual: Click on a location, and Maps will not only show you other related locations nearby, but also emphasizes the roads that lead to the place, making sure that they're all labeled. Your home appears on the map, if Google has that information, and you can quickly get directions from it to a selected location just by clicking on the marker for your home. Essentially, Seefeld explained, a new, unique map is created on every click.

Directions have been improved as well. Google now shows you side-by-side options for public transit and driving directions on the map, letting you easily compare them. In the case of public transit, you'll also get a summary of all your options, culled from the week's transit schedule. A new schedule viewer lets you find the option that best suits you, thanks to an overview that shows you how much walking or how many transfers are needed.

Google saved a little bit of eye candy for last: Zoom all the way out in Google Maps and you'll get a view of the Earth from space, complete with real-time clouds, and--even farther out--a live shot of the day and night views of Earth; you can even watch the lights turn on as you rotate the globe.

This new version of Google Maps is available on Wednesday for I/O attendees. Those at home can request an invite at Google Maps's Preview site; the first invites will go out tomorrow.


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