UPDATE: We’ve gotten to test out the new Maps preview and it’s pretty awesome. Navigation was slow at first but it has improved as we’ve used it. Populating search results directly on the map is definitely an improvement. We’ll keep you updated as we continue to use the new Maps.
The newly updated Google Maps is just one of the many announcements made at Google I/O 2013 today, but it’s already one of the most talked about. The new Maps has been built completely from the ground up, so the drastic new look and functionality may take users by surprise. But the main focus of the overhaul is 100% personalization for the person using the tool.
Here’s what you can expect…
- Vector Maps — With improved speed and loadability, vector maps on desktop will provide a much more mobile-like experience. “The map is the interface for all this,” lead designer Jonah Jones said this morning.
- Personalized Suggestions — Taking all the information Google has already aquired about your tastes and preferences, Maps will now literally redraw entire areas as you zoom in, to adapt to personal interests. They’ll show you specific locations that are important to you, highlighting work, home, previously searched locations, and even making suggestions on new places based on your interests and recommendations from your friends. “Larry calls this going from a demand to an assist,” Jones said of CEO Larry Page. Basically, every map viewed will look different for every different person using it, and even your own customized maps will change from week to week based on your shifting interests.
- Google Street View Integration — When you click on a restaurant, a Google Now style card appears in the left corner with Zagat ratings from your friends, but you can also get a 360 view of the inside the restaurant in many cases. Street View photos will also allow you to swipe left and right to see other results in the surrounding area.
- Google Earth Integration — With an emphasis on high quality imagery, now you can get 3D rotateable views of landmarks and areas you’re interesting in seeing from above. Incredibly, many of these images will also be in real-time. Added Jones this morning, “Those clouds? They’re real time. Zooming even farther, we see the Earth’s position in space. The stars, the sun. It’s live today for attendees, for everyone else you can sign up for an invite.” If you back up even further and watch, you can even see the rotation of Earth…in real time. Granted, that won’t get you to your destination any more quickly, but it’s cool!
- Real-time Traffic Data — No more switching back and forth from directions to your traffic app. The new Google Maps will give you a live view of traffic incidents, with alerts and updates. You can also quickly and easily change your route accordingly.
We think Gigaom said it best: “The new Google Maps marries data, social and the concept of hyper-personalization, tastefully layering those principles on top of beautiful and detail-rich maps.” The new Google Maps will launch on mobile for iOS and Android this summer, but you can preview the desktop version here by requesting an invite. Then we definitely want your feedback on this.