Google Maps on the desktop has been rebuilt from the ground up, ushering in its most significant changes since its launch eight years ago. After spending some time with the new Maps, and with its lead designer, we’re struck by Google’s choice to do away with most of the user interface elements and let the map reach from edge to edge in your browser. A lone search box in the upper left gives you access to Maps’ features, as does clicking on elements within the map. Google has integrated Google Now’s card metaphor to present information from a newly built-in version of Google Earth, reviews from Zagat and Google+, Street View, and directions. And new user interface tweaks surface locations and transit routes before you even search for them.[youtube url=”http://youtu.be/THxJHcR1D2c”]
The rebooted Google Maps user interface, which made its public debut at Google I/O today, is a total reimagining of one of Google’s most popular services. The changes are a bit shocking at first — the new Maps looks and works more like a native app than a traditional website. The tiled desktop maps of old have been replaced with cleaner, quicker-loading vector maps. As you type into the search box, predictions show up as they did before, but once you’ve settled on what you’re looking for, details appear in the Google Now-style information cards.Rather than solely relying on you searching for a location, the map automatically highlights your work, home, frequently searched-for locations and new places you might be interested in, based on your search history and places your friends have given good reviews. “Larry calls this going from a demand to an assist,” Jonah Jones, Maps’ lead designer, said of CEO Larry Page.