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February 9th, 2005

Google Maps

If you’re the one person that hasn’t seen Google Maps yet, go look now.

As with previous Google endeavors, this is a beautifully done application that takes the super-stagnant market of online mapping services and turns it on its side. Mapquest, Mapblaster, Mapsonus, etc. are all essentially the same thing and are nearly identical to software that was available ten years ago. Google Maps, though, allows you to actually do things you might want to do (“italian restaurants near 1400 pennsylvania ave, washington, dc”), offers good directions, and has by far the most readable maps I’ve seen. In addition, being able to move the map around and zoom in at will (without a page refresh) is just phenomenal. Paul and I were imagining a world where Google Maps was coming with Amazon’s new yellow pages. And what about combining it with Keyhole? So many possibilities.

Downsides: it doesn’t work in Opera, it doesn’t work in Safari, and there are no maps of Greenland.

It’s not much of a stretch to predict that if the other mapping services don’t catch up, they’ll quickly—wait for it… wait for it—fall off the map.

Posted in Technology

FROM: Paul
DATE: Wednesday February 9, 2005 -- 9:30:47 am
And since it doesn't work in Safari, it doesn't work in the (excellent) OmniWeb either.

I really, really geeked out about this interface yesterday. It really is How Online Maps Should Be. On the pure technology side, this shows just how important making calls to the server without loading a new page will become. Google seems to be leading the way with this... Gmail, Maps both do it.

I also greatly appeciate the attention to detail in, of all things, the little markers that "stand" on the map. I cried.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday February 9, 2005 -- 9:46:53 am
there are no maps of Greenland. planing on driving to Greenland anytime soon?

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday February 10, 2005 -- 3:30:45 pm
I played with it today. It's really fun. The scrolling beats the pants off of Yahoo, as does zooming, since it doesn't require a full page load (with new ads).

On the other hand, I'm firmly against making things look client-server inside a web-based app. It's just wrong: you should just download (or buy) mapping software if you really want to scroll around the country realtime. And if you use it at work, you're sucking a slew of bandwidth from others.

The search results ("restaurants near 12 Clear St, Oakland, CA") are pretty bad, though -- it searches for the words in the names of restaurants. So "pho" turns up only Vietnamese places with "Pho" in their name.

The search results also include a ton of defunct places that have been dead for almost a decade. Of course, they're based on Google results, and Google archives stuff from eons ago. There are tons of restaurant lists out there that are way out of date. So it's not their fault per se, but it makes them look bad.

But, as I said, it's fun.

What is this then?

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