Google unveiled at Google I/O 2013 a variety of new features for its Google Map products – both for the desktop and the mobile versions.
We got a sneak preview at some of the new features for the desktop version of Google Maps earlier today, but the company also presented new features for the Android and iOS versions of its mapping app.
Before revealing the new Google Maps features, the company reminded the audience that Google Maps is now available in 200 countries, with North Korea being the latest addition. Furthermore, 50 countries are pictured via Street Views, with Street Views cars having travelled 5 million miles so far and 50 billion kilometers of turn by turn directions have been delivered.
Moreover, more than one million websites integrate Google Maps maps.
Interestingly, when talking about the mobile version of Google Maps, Google’s Daniel Graf started it off with Google Maps for iPhone, a product launched only in December 2012. Graf took a shot at Apple Maps before unveiling new Google Maps features, by saying that iOS users found Google Maps for iOS to be “sleek, simple beautiful, and let’s not forget accurate.”
The new Google Maps for Android app, which will be similar to the iOS version design-wise, will bring a new five-point rating scale for places including restaurants and offer Zagat review integration as well as Google Offers right on the map page from various partners.
Naturally, Search will be an important component of Google Maps to help you find the places you’re looking for.
When it comes to turn-by-turn navigation, Google Maps for Android and iOS will add live coverage of incidents and dynamic re-routing. Support for tablets has also been added, with the iPad getting a dedicated Google Maps app of its own.
Google Maps for Android and iOS will be available at some point this summer, although actual release dates have not been mentioned.
Google said that the new Google Maps has been “built for you,” revealing that it has completely overhauled the app. As previously rumored, the app will offer users full-screen maps, removing all the unnecessary clutter and white space from the screen.
As Bernhard Seefeld explained on stage, the “map is the new UI.” The search bar is the only element present on top of the map (not counting the information layers, of course), which should serve for all one’s search needs. The results will appear directly on the map, and you won’t see anymore the regular pins you expect in Google Map search.
In addition to outdoors maps, Google will also show you indoor pictures for various places including restaurants and museums, relying also on crowd-source imagery uploaded by other Google users in the process.
Google Maps will offer Google+ integration, and users will be able to check out results reviewed by friends. By logging in into Google Maps, users will be able to personalize their Google Maps experience. Saving and rating places will have a direct effect on the appearance of a map, which will highlight the most important landmarks around based on ones Maps experience.
When clicking on a place on the map, Google Maps will show you how to reach that place from different directions, marking the potential access routes to any landmark. And that’s how Google “can build a unique map for every place on every click,” as Seefeld put it.
Also interesting is the way Google Maps handles directions. All you need to do is click on a place and then on your home to activate it. Then you’ll be offered various ways to reach your destination including public transit, which is a feature Google Maps users will probably appreciate under its new format. Google Maps will show all potential public transportation means for a destination right alongside trip duration and schedule information for each line.
Obviously, in addition to public transit information, you’re also going to get driving, walking and biking directions, and you’ll be able to check out flight information right from inside Google Maps.
Finally, the new Google Maps will offer access to better images, from street level or places all the way up to the clouds, which will be shown in real time around the Earth apparently.
The image carousel at the bottom will include Street View images, business photos, photo tours but also Google Earth images on top of Google Maps (Earth View). You can check out the new Google Maps in action in the short video Google posted on its Google Maps YouTube channel:
Just like with Google Now, Google Maps gets better the more you use it, as it learns more details about you. The new Google Maps can be previewed at maps.google.com/preview, but requires an invitation to use, at least for now.
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