If you've used Google Maps lately, you've probably noticed a new feature here or a slight change there. Well, now Google is rolling out the complete, revamped version of Maps for all the world to see. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks.
1. Real Time Traffic
New to this version of the Google Maps interface is the real-time traffic report feature, which tells you how long your drive, walk or cycling venture is projected to take based on current traffic patterns.
2. Related Results
Google is also introducing related results within the map view itself so viewers can see not only the location of the place they are investigating, but also nearby places of similar interest. Looking at the screenshot from Google's Lat Long blog, you can see these related results as they appear in the upper left hand corner of the screen while the user investigates a coffee joint to the right.
3. Easy-to-View Review Information
Did you notice that you can also see reviews and cost indicators in the clicked-on location's Maps listing? By clicking any of the listed locations on the map, you'll be able to immediately view this information. Not only that, but you can also immediately compare your location of interest with the related results that Google gives you based on the number of stars those places have received.
As Jennifer Slegg noted last May, the fact that review information like this is becoming immediately available to users puts a lot more pressure on business owners and public organizations to list themselves on Google+. The stronger your Google+ presence is, the better chance you'll have of getting a related mention in Google Maps.
4. Trip-Planning Tool
The new Google Maps offers a pretty neat trip-planning tool. Say you want to visit California or New York City. There's a ton of stuff to see and you don't know your way around! Simply go to Google Maps and click on the attraction you'd like to start your trip with, then click the little + sign below the search bar and add the next attraction you want to visit.
Google will map out the best path for you to tour an entire city based on the locations that interest you. If you get to your destination and change your mind, just drag and drop your selected attractions to change their order and adjust your route.
5. Rich Media
Lastly, the new Google Maps will also feature rich media that allows you to better explore the places you want to visit before you actually go there. Complete with 3D views and an easy-to-navigate image carousel at the bottom of your screen, HD photos of your top vacation spots will be available at your fingertips.
Google is even giving you your own virtual tour guide, Pegman, to show you around the streets of more than 50 countries.
With an interface as expansive as Google Maps, you can't expect to log on this afternoon and see all of these features seamlessly implemented. However, Google expects to have the new Maps features widely available within the next couple of weeks, so you can expect to start seeing some major changes soon.
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