Google Maps is one of the favorite options when choosing a map service, either from the mobile or on the web. It combines different features and functions that are practical for users and attractive for those who wish to use it in their own endeavors, as mentioned by Google:
Google Maps is the most used map service in the world. More than 800,000 sites use the Google Maps API and there are more than 250 million active users counting only mobile devices.
In Google I / O 2013 the New Google Maps was announced, completely renewing the user experience. If we have not used Google Maps or we find this new version puzzling, this article is a good excuse to give a tour of its operation and main characteristics.
A little history
Some memories may remember the first steps of Google Maps, as described by Wikipedia:
Google Maps It was first announced on Google Blog on February 8, 2005. It originally supported only Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox users, but support for Opera and Safari was added on February 25, 2005. The software was in its phase beta for six months, before becoming part of Google Local on October 6, 2005.
And if we want to take a tour of the main landmarks of Google Maps, a recommendation to take into account is the video Google Maps: The many dimensions of a modern map, where Peter Birch calls Google Maps the cartography of the modern era commenting with the rest of the team the evolution of Google Maps.
How Google Maps works
The new Google Maps combines a series of characteristics that allow us with a few clicks to find a range of options for our query. An interactive map, different configuration options, information cards and a lot of Street View content
A simple way to know the full potential of this new version is by going through its basic functions, then combining them in different situations. For example, let’s imagine we need to use Google Maps to find out
How to get to a certain place
If we want to know the route that we must take between two points of our interest, we only have to indicate it in the way that is most practical for us. We can write the corresponding addresses in the search box by selecting How to get there or indicate them on the map so that they automatically appear on our itinerary.
There is no rule on this, we can indicate from exact directions to estimated places. But we will find some aspects to define so that it gives us the information we need, as we see in the image:
Conveyance, if we plan to go by car, by bus, on foot, by plane, etc.
Route options, if we prefer a particular route or wish to avoid toll points or the motorway, fewer transfers in case of transport, etc.
Traffic status: we can decide if we want to know the conditions in real time or see the typical traffic according to the day and time.
And if so much data is overwhelming or we don’t know the route, we have some help:
Step by Step: If we do not know the proposed path, then we can use this option, where we will be shown with Street View images some of the points of the route, as we move forward on the map.
ItineraryIf we still do not feel safe, then we can access the Itinerary where all the steps will be shown in detail along with a printable map.
Know places of interest near our location or in a specific area
If we are on an outing with friends and want to consult a pub or restaurants near our location, or if we are looking for a business in a particular area, we only have to indicate what we are looking for and mark the location that interests us.
It will give us results recommended by Experts or by the people we have in our circles on Google+.
Information on traffic conditions
If we are interested in knowing the traffic conditions on our journey to work for example, or we are planning a longer trip, we can use the different options that Google Maps presents us. We can follow the same dynamics of How to get there that we discussed before choosing Live traffic or Typical traffic. Or we can simply write that indicates the traffic near
If we choose Direct traffic We present the current conditions with different colors to mark the degree of circulation and estimated time of our journey. And we will also point out on the map any incident that occurs on our route, such as cutting routes, accidents, etc.
Typical traffic can be useful to us if we are planning a long trip and want to have an idea of what the traffic conditions will be like when passing through such a place at a certain time. In this way, we can navigate our schedules to circulate at a convenient time.
Create a travel itinerary
It allows us to save multiple destinations so we can create a travel itinerary with all the points we plan to visit on our trip. We can change the order of the destinations or the routes that it proposes as many times as we want.
Consult a schedule of possible public transport routes
If we plan to go to a place on public transport we can see through Google Maps the different options we have. We will be shown schedules, lines, route, duration of the journey, so we can compare the different trips proposed. And if we go to More options and schedules we will have a schedule of all the points that we have mentioned.
Investigate a tourist destination or take virtual tours
If we are researching for our next vacation, we can combine all the features that we have mentioned, and with the bonus of being able to visualize tourist places through Street View.
For example, if we plan to visit Easter Island and look for information on Google Maps, we will have a range of views to consult:
We can also consult the visualizations available from the image carousel in the lower margin. We will find images of Street View, spherical photographs, 3D images from area view with Earth Tours, interior photographs and many contributions from other users that allow us to visit different points of interest.
A few weeks ago the Google team integrated Pegman again, this species of Google Maps mascot that guides us with Street View images as we see in the previous image. If we want to know if there are visualizations, we just have to click on its icon and show us the available options in blue.
Create educational projects
Google Maps is a very interesting tool to apply it to teaching in different settings. We can create projects or use initiatives such as the expedition carried out on the Galapagos Island, tours of historical monuments, observing natural geographic accidents, among others. Or creating our own maps and integrating different multimedia content.
Through these examples we have seen some of its outstanding characteristics, but it has many extra options that we can explore and integrate into our navigation mode. For example, it allows us to save the addresses of our home / work or prominent places, check the search history, share maps, different views from Maps or Satellite view, among others.
A detail to take into account is that, although it is not a requirement to have a Google account to use Google Maps, we will need to log in to access some of its options and reflect a more personalized scenario.
Google Maps on mobile devices
And of course, we can also have Google Maps on mobile devices on iOS or Android where all the benefits of the service are enhanced and complemented by new options. Compass mode, step by step navigation, discover new places, offline maps, are some of the functions that we will find when consulting it from our mobile phones.
Although not all the options we have discussed may be available at our location, Google Maps may be an essential tool in our favorite resource kit.