Using Google Maps today is great for what it’s supposed to do, get you from point A to point B. But there’s a lot of information that Google collects that you never get a chance to glance it, or don’t have a reason to. Google wants to give you more reasons to explore a map, and it’s obvious with the preview of its latest version. This truly is a re-imagination from the ground up, and exactly what the recent leaks tipped off.
I sat down with Jonah Jones, Lead Designer, Google Maps and Bernhard Seefeld, Director of Product Management, Google Maps to discuss the thoughts behind the revamp, one that’s being rolled out in preview mode today — seemingly because it’s such a drastic departure from what’s available now. The main element of navigation is now the map itself, rather than the search box and left-hand information that we’re used to. Once again, it’s taking cues from the mobile versions of Maps, running smooth and fluidly and providing the information that you need within the context of the map itself, rather than take your focus away with search results along the side.
Jones explained me: “What if you could create a billion maps, one for each user. That’s what we’re doing here.” What this means is that Google Maps will now adapt to the things that interest you, including restaurants you’ve been to, ones that you might like and what your friends have done. The brilliant imagery that Google Maps has at its disposal is being pushed to the forefront, running along the bottom of the page. Until now, you had to click buttons to look at some of these images, now it’s all integrated. Google Earth is even making its desktop debut, thanks to WebGL.