Much of the web is buzzing about the new Gmail, but they may want to get ready for a new Google Maps. The company is preparing to give the widely used mapping service a complete makeover, from user interface to functionality. Most users map not have utilized the MapsGL, or experimental version, of Google Maps as the option to toggle is tucked in the lower left-hand corner. It let the developer team test out features such as 3D buildings and making transitions from Streetview, etc. clean and smooth. Recently Google announced that Maps GL was going away, but it would be replaced by something much better: The new Google Maps.
Users are currently able to request an invitation to preview the new Maps which is more “immersive,” using Google’s “cards” to make the experience simpler and prettier on the eyes. It’s more than a facelift, however. Access to the new version began rolling out recently. Click on “View the list” below for a walk through of the new Google Maps.
Shaun Beacham is musician having graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and a multidimensional journalist exclusively for Examiner. Subscribe to all of his channels and be sure to follow him on Twitter, Google+, and other social media outlets.
Smarter search box
The first thing you may notice is that the map takes up the entire window and the search box has been relocated to the upper left-hand corner. Clicking in the box brings up some of your recent searches, synced across your Google account. You can also click in the “Getting around” card for traffic, bicycle routes, transit information, and (of course) directions.
Interact with your map
Actually searching for something (Sushi in Boston in this example) brings up results right on the map itself. Everything has a symbol, the one for restaurants being a fork and knife in a red circle. Some symbols are bigger than others, which indicates that particular result may be more relevant to your search. Below the search bar, you’ll find related searches and reviews from fellow patrons in and out of your Google+ circles.
Only see information you want to
Clicking on one of the search results brings up the more specific information you are looking for about that particular location including its street address, business hours, website, and phone number. With a click, you can get directions to this sushi restaurant or save it to your places for quick access later on. Any images of the location will be displayed below this information with a Street View preview (a Street Pre-View, if you will), as well as, a quick reference review.
Explore with your map
Exploring a viewable area has never been easier with the new image carousel found by expanding the “Explore” tab in the lower right-hand corner. You will find a bunch of pictures of landmarks and locations. Clicking on one shows you its exact location on the map. From there, you can easily zoom in to Street View.
This is your Earth
If your computer is powerful enough to support Google Earth, you are in for a treat. Google Earth is nothing new, but with the new Maps, it is more refined and stunning. The lower left-hand corner, or to the left of the Explore Street View carousel, there is another square labeled “Earth” (“Satellite” if your computer cannot support Google Earth). The Earth view allows you to view the map in a completely 3D satellite image. To control the angle and to rotate the map, controls may be found on the right. There is even a dedicated “Tilt” button.