Nerd Christmas (aka Google I/O) is nearly over and this year we’ve hit the jackpot. The big man has given us a new Android phone, a new integrated messenger, several improvements to Google+, and, best of all, a sexy new interface to Google Maps.
Almost every single Google service (or at least the ones they’re not likely to shutter), has gotten an update this year but Google Maps stands out as the most impressive and important change. Google has described this as “the biggest change we’ve made to Google Maps since we launched eight years ago,” and it probably is.
While a shiny new design for Google+ and new features for Hangouts will appeal to the nerdy among us, the Google Maps update will change everything for the hundreds of thousands of users of the site.
Maps has been completely redesigned, and to use that terrible phrase from Hollywood, reimagined. Combining the advanced features of Google Earth, the social abilities of Google+ and the design ethos of Google Now, Maps has become the new love child for Google’s socially aware, design focused developers.
Google Maps is now all about the map, the search bar hovers over a full-screen globe, with no white column or other white space on screen. Navigation directions and search results appear under the search box as Google Now-style cards, so they’re only there when you need them.
“The new, smarter search box is your starting point for discovery. One search makes all the information you need available at a glance – read up on your destination, see ratings and reviews and sometimes, even take a peek inside.”
Continuing the personalisation features that Google introduced to Search over a year ago, Google Maps now generates unique results based on your location and what you click on the screen.
“What if we told you that during your lifetime, Google could create millions of custom maps…each one just for you?
In the past, such a notion would have been unbelievable: a map was just a map, and you got the same one for New York City, whether you were searching for the Empire State Building or the coffee shop down the street. What if, instead, you had a map that’s unique to you, always adapting to the task you want to perform right this minute?”
As it has been since the service launched, Google is also pushing Google+ integration with its new maps. The interface has been designed to encourage users to submit reviews and share locations.
Google is rolling out the new maps over the next few weeks, but if you want to see it sooner you’ll have to request an invite from Google.