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June 23, 2011

Maps Online Part II - Google Maps

In a previous blog, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps and Mapquest were discussed.  Google Maps is probably the most used online mapping service and understandably so because of the features and speed.

One of the great feature of Google Maps is when you type the name of a location, Google predicts the results of your search as you are typing in a manner similar to doing a Google search.  Type your search in the search bar and you will see what Google thinks you are searching for.  This can speed up your search since if your result shows you can just click on it and the map will show the location you are seeking. The ease of zooming in and out using your mouse's scroll wheel is just another reason this a good map.

Google Maps allows you to get directions by car, mass transit, walking or bicycling. Of the 4 maps that have been discussed it is the only one where you can get directions by all of the choices mentioned.  Bing Maps allows directions for all but bicycling.  Whether getting directions for a trip or navigating to an address, you can get both live traffic and the expected traffic based upon date and time of your expected travel.  The expected traffic is based upon past traffic patterns.  You will sometimes get more than 1 route when searching for directions.  On a long trip, the difference can be a matter of a few minutes but the longer route could be more scenic.  The choice is yours.

Google Street view is much improved but the picture quality still trails Bing Maps. That said, it is quite a bit easier to go to/from Google Street than going to/from Bing Maps Streetside view. What I personally like is the ease of navigation.  I was showing a friend of mine great vantage points NW of San Francisco to get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Using the street view enabled me to give him a preview of what he would see in person on his trip.

As you zoom in an area, you can see the location of points of interest.  Further to the right of the search bar is an option, "What's Around Here"? You will see letter codes that correspond to the listing on the left side of the map.

The others have their features (the quality of pictures when using Bing Streetside, the turn by turn directions using Mapquest).  The features of Google Maps such as its speed and ease of use  are why it is the preferred mapping site to use.