Google Maps wants to be your one-stop source for maps so it is upping its game with its new Google Maps Gallery, where everything from historical maps to maps of school districts and more are being assembled to help users find just the information they are seeking.
The new maps gallery was announced by Jordan Breckenridge, the product manager for Google Maps, in a Feb. 27 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.
"If you've ever wondered which trails Lewis & Clark traveled for their famous expedition, or looked for maps of the best schools in your region, you may have found yourself scouring the web without much luck," wrote Breckenridge. "The best results for your search may come from governments, nonprofits and businesses, but historically that information has been hard to find or inaccessible to the public. Well, now, with the new Google Maps Gallery, it's easier for you to find maps like those all in one place."
The new Maps Gallery "works like an interactive, digital atlas," wrote Breckenridge. "You can explore historic city plans, climate trends, housing affordability, shipwrecks and up-to-date evacuation routes. In addition to finding these maps through Maps Gallery, they can be viewed in Google Earth and are discoverable through major search engines."
The range of available maps through the gallery so far includes maps from the National Geographic Society, World Bank Group, United States Geological Survey, Florida Emergency Management and the City of Edmonton, he wrote. More organizations are expected to add their own maps over time. "As the Gallery grows, it'll be easier to find out where we've been, where we are, and where we're going, giving us a new way to look at the world around us," he wrote.
In February, the latest updated version of the online Google Maps service was completed and rolled out to users, featuring a wide assortment of improvements and updates. Google had unveiled a series of innovative updates for Google Maps at its annual Google I/O developers conference in May 2013, including a more interactive look and feel for Maps. The new Google Maps takes a novel approach to how people use online and mobile maps. Maps gains the ability to respond to user inputs instantly—making recommendations on places to visit and highlighting information that matters most during a map inquiry. The new generation of the Maps service essentially creates maps that are unique to each user and his or her needs, based on the input from the user.
Amid the changes and improvements in the new Maps is the ability to search for something like "coffee" in a neighborhood on a map, and be shown local results and snippets right on the map, providing users with related results that they might not have known about.
Also improved are specific directions that can be provided, whether you are traveling by car, bicycle or mass transit, as well as estimated times and distances for each route and real-time traffic reports.