A Few Minutes With Google Maps

I've just spent a small amount of time "playing" with the new Google Maps service.

+ The Google Maps themselves look very nice on my computer screen and are easy to use. While the slider is useful to zoom in and out of a location, I would also like to be able to click on the map itself to do this.

+ You've probably already noticed that the Navteq supplies some of the map info to Google. Navteq also supplies map data to Yahoo Maps, MSN Maps, and MapQuest

+ MSN Maps offers the very useful "Paste An Address" feature. Using it, you can take an address from any web page and search it without having to fill-in the address and location boxes. Google and Yahoo should also offer something like it.

+ While Google Maps are a good size (vs. MSN and Yahoo) when first landing on the page, Yahoo and MSN maps can be made much larger. Look for the "Map Size" boxes on MSN Maps and the "Make Map Larger" link at Yahoo Maps.

+ In terms of mapping entries from Google Local onto Google Maps.
It works well. That said, I still have issues with some of the quality/accuracy of the data that's now being mapped. I've been writing about these issues since Google Local launched last year. Yes, I understand that Google Local and Google Maps are beta but I'll still share a few examples.

Search for: Hotels near LAX (used as an example on the Google Maps home page).
+ The third result, Capistrano's is not a hotel but a restaurant.
+ I'm sure that other hotels and motels exist near LAX. What about a link to quickly show more locations?

On the Google Maps tour page, you'll find the example search: great sushi in New York. What makes these restaurants great? Does just having the word "great" close to a restaurants address/phone number make them great? I'm sure these NYC sushi establishments will not be happy to learn that they're "bad sushi restaurants" because a single person said they were bad on a message board. Why are these dentists listed as bad?

+ As I've pointed out in the past, the lack of a strong controlled vocabulary (to bring like things together) also causes problems. A search for lawyers 20901 returns different results than attorneys 20901. Yahoo results are identical for both terms.

+ A search for cell phones, Lawrence KS turns up a beauty salon in addition to returning different results than cellular phones. Car Dealers 20901 returns different results than Auto Dealers 20901. Why?

+ Finally, I searched and mapped, "Search Engine" in Mountain View, California. What did I learn? In addition to Google offering search technology:
+ Arinell Pizza (35 miles away)
+ The Roofers Joint Apprenticeship Training Program
+ Comfort Inn-Hayward
are also search companies located in the Mountain View area. (-:

Almost forgot. When Google Local launched I had some fun showing that Osama Bin Laden could be found at various locations. Today, I learned and was able to map that Bin Laden could be hiding out at the Googleplex (note letter G). (-: