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May 6, 2008

Google Maps Facelift

Google Maps added a lot of features in the past three years since it was launched without major interface changes. The application started to look cluttered with too many links, buttons and options, so a redesign was more than necessary.

Today Google Maps got a small facelift (compare to some screenshots from 2007) and I'm sure we'll see more changes in the next months. The search box is powerful enough to handle all kinds of queries, so it's not necessary to choose between finding locations and searching for local businesses. The option to get directions is still available and now supports address autocomplete based on your saved locations.

Google Maps homepage replaced the examples of searches with popular custom maps, showing that the application reached a new stage of development.



Update: Evan Parker from Google says it's only an experiment. "We're running the new UI as an experiment, so only a small percentage of users see it. If people like it better than the old UI then we'll launch it to all users after cleaning up the bugs and incorporating any changes based on feedback from the experiment."

Update 2 (July 29): The new interface is live.

{ Thanks, Simone and Philipp. }

47 comments:

  1. Argh!!! I can no longer drag the routes on the direction finder, to put in custom waypoints! Bad bad bad!!!

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  2. I get the new side bar (with links rather than suggested searches) but I still see the old tabs to choose the type of search I need (rather than the new, single box). This may be because I am using a regional (Australian) version?

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  3. Don't see the new top bar and I'm in the USA.

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  4. @McLake, I get the same thing as Dork MD.

    Also, it seems to me there should be a "Clear Map" or a "Reset Map" button. After I went to the Weather Channel map, I had to reload to clear it. If there is such a button, it's not placed obviously.

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  5. @wd

    yes I had the same problem... But I like the new interface :)

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  6. I now have a "View in Google Earth" link when looking at a map I created. Formerly I only had this link when editing the map, I believe.

    The problem where the KML version of a google map that comes from this "View in Google Earth" link only has the first page of map items is still present in this new google maps.

    You should mention that flaw so it is more widely known.

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  7. Yeah, i don't see it eaither, and I'm in the US

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  8. No new interface for me and I am in the US.

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  9. I noticed the update this morning but now the facelift disappeared... and what I see now it's the old page. Maybe Google did find some bugs and deactivated it

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  10. Probably Google Maps has been updated only for a small number of data centers, so you should wait until the update is propagated to all data centers.

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  11. You can use "Stylish" set to get something similar. It has a maximum screen view of maps, can get more details. http://userstyles.org/styles/3758

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  12. When I map directions I no longer see the route mapped on the map - both firefox on linux & ie on windows. Using google maps in Germany.

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  13. the new interface is disgusting, the colors are completely OLD, basic HTML Google style... Please don't change it like that, make it better, but no so different.

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  14. I haven't received the update, but the greyish blueish bar above the map makes the map feel smaller, whereas the older version, that loss of space isn't as apparent.

    Google maps should have a fullscreen option.

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  15. The new UI omits the "Saved Locations" link. This is highly annoying.

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  16. Arrrg!!! This new interface is very disappointing ... I have lost several of the functions I've been using regularly ... like not being able to drag and drop locations in order to re-arrange my route when I have added multiple destinations...and if I have multiple destinations, it only gives the total mileage for the whole trip instead of giving me a breakdown of mileage for each segment of the trip...and I can't hide directions so that all I see is each trip segment listed with mileage. VERY FRUSTRATING!!! Is there a way to access the old version??

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  17. This is a disaster for me - planning a long road trip in CA and now can't see the mileage in each stage - aaaaarrgrghshhsh -

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  18. Please bring back back to the ability to drag and drop multiple destinations and see the times in between. Please!

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  19. How the heck can you find businesses around different addresses? It says just type it in, but it doesn't show the one closest. The new google map is the worst. Where they on drugs? I'm getting annoyed just thinking about it.

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  20. Did they really get rid of the drag-and-drop routes? Usually Google is one for innovation, but this time they are moving back in time, circa 2002. What moron thought this was a good idea?

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  21. Its really hard to find local businesses near the location I am looking at, this is BAD. The new UI is crap, it was great before. It pisses me off just thinking about it.

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  22. This is a terrible enhancement ... in fact I don't notice any enchancements. I used to add all the destinations on my trip and then drag and rearrange them depending on times between destinations. A great feature that was ... so why when you produce and upgrade do you take away a feature. Doesn't seem much like an upgrade does it ... more like a downgrade. Bring back the milage/time between destinations and the abiltiy to drag and drop the order.

    ... Looking for other mapping services

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  23. I agree with those who are frustrated with Google for removing the ability to drag and drop destinations. I visit 20+ destinations per day; removing this feature has lowered my productivity significantly. Bad move Google

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  24. bring back the drag and drop of destinations!!!

    also, old version you could remove some of the customized routes between destinations (eg. A to B via X to C via Y) separately, now it's all or nothing (removes both X and Y instead of just X or Y)

    boooooo... :(

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  25. Can we PLEASE have the old version back? The ease of usability was one of the reasons Google had become my default services finder.

    Come on, this stinks! OLD version ... OLD version...

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  26. SPECIAL NOTE: For me this facelift only runs under Safari (currently Leopard), not Firefox 3. Bummer.

    One feature I find very useful is *avoid tolls*. But I agree about all the removed features. **I'm guessing that G is more interested in the success of the interface, and then will restore the functionality gradually.** (hope they read this)

    Also, if G is listening, it would be great if I could checkbox or radio button-select the following options when requesting routes (and checking any particular box would select and grey out the inappropriate options):

    * walking (this would automatically check & grey out some of the "avoids" below)
    * bicycling (would only disable avoid interstates, I suppose)
    * avoid highways:
    √ interstate highways
    √ toll roads
    √ US highways
    √ state highways

    The point of the sub-options is: What if I & my family wish to trans-navigate US 50 from coast to coast? I would think that by "avoiding" all but US highways, GMaps should get the hint that I want to follow US50 all the way if my origin is Ocean City VA and my destination is Sacramento CA. Right now you have to "drag to change route", and there seems to be a limit to the number of detours GMaps accepts. Bummer too.

    Would like to send feedback directly to G about this "beta" very soon, but maybe this idea will catch on. Hope this is the best place to say all this.

    Anyway, I like the interface elements a lot, but don't take away features!

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  27. P.S. I had to switch browsers to post this, because the spam-proofing is broken inside Safari. Go figure!

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  28. I have had no problems with drag and drop routes. Still works for me.

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  29. The original version is far superior, plain and simple!!!! Please atleast offer the old version to those of us that you have included in your experiment. Thank you in advance.

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  30. Please put back the drag and drop destination order back.

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  31. I do not like the changes at all. Please bring back the old version or make the new version work like the old version. The "enhancements" I dislike:

    (1) Can no longer rearrange the order
    (2) Can not hide the directions

    I use Google maps for planning trips and just need a rough idea of time and distance between points. During the actual trip I use my Garmin for directions.

    For me this was one giant leap backwards. I now have to start looking at other mapping programs.

    Please make things better and undo the "improvements"!

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  32. The drag and drop feature is a real loss :( Makes me want to look for a new map provider. Unfortunately, there are few available out there.

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  33. Google says:

    "We're working on restoring these features. Stay tuned for updates."

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  34. It looks to me like they've gone back to the way it was. I don't approve. I liked the changes.

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  35. I do not care for it at all. I always recommended it for the ease in creating maps which I do a lot! I can no longer figure out how to use it and will definitely go elsewhere. It's too bad, it WAS my favorite.

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  36. it seems to me there should be a "Clear Map" or a "Reset Map" button. After I went to the Weather Channel map, I had to reload to clear it. If there is such a button, it's not placed obviously.

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  37. I use Google maps for planning trips and just need a rough idea of time and distance between points. During the actual trip I use my Garmin for directions.For me this was one giant leap backwards. I now have to start looking at other mapping programs.

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  38. I completely agree Google Map is so useful that even a person sitting far away can find the location he wants to in other part of the world.

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  39. Google maps?
    When was the sattelite photo of the UK in google maps taken?

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  40. this is great, but some of these images are ages old. they need to be updated at least once a year.

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  41. Google map is very helpfull for all of us...

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  42. yes it would be nice if these images were constantly updated.

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  43. I don't really see any importance of Google maps to me. I have my GPS if I need directions. But good to know they are constantly updating it.

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  44. I think Google maps is so much better than the others such as Yahoo maps or even MapQuest.

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