Google Maps and Search Get Updates at Google I/O

Google Maps is getting a major redesign with increased user interaction, while Google Search will now "talk" with you to help refine your searches.

Google Maps and Google Search are getting innovative updates, with Maps receiving a more interactive look and Search gaining speech recognition capabilities that will allow users to "talk" back and forth during searches.

Both upgrades were unveiled in detail at the May 15 opening session of the three-day Google I/O Developers Conference, which is being held in San Francisco's Moscone Center.

The new Google Maps takes a new approach to how people use online and mobile maps, gaining the ability to instantly respond to user inputs, making recommendations on places to visit and highlighting information that matters most during a map inquiry, according to a May 15 post by Bernhard Seefeld, Google Maps product management director, and Yatin Chawathe, Google Maps engineering director, on the Google Lat Long Blog.

The next generation of the Maps service essentially will create a map that is unique to each user and his or her needs, based on the input from the user, according to the post. "And the more you interact with the map, the better it gets. When you set your Home and Work locations, star favorite places, write reviews and share with friends, Google Maps will build even more useful maps with recommendations for places you might enjoy," the post states.

The idea is that Maps will now create custom maps for each user, according to Google. "In the past, such a notion would have been unbelievable: a map was just a map, and you got the same one for New York City, whether you were searching for the Empire State Building or the coffee shop down the street."

With the new Maps features, users will also be able to uncover the best local destinations of all types, with detailed labels popping up that provide brief place descriptions and icons that highlight business categories and other useful information, such as which restaurants are recommended by your Google+ friends, wrote Seefeld and Chawathe. "Info cards provide helpful information such as business hours, and ratings and reviews so you can quickly decide where to eat, drink and play."

The revamped Maps also feature images of destinations more prominently for users, as well as presenting improved directions and tours generated from user-submitted photos, the post states. "It's the biggest change we've made to Google Maps since we launched eight years ago. The quest to build the perfect map will never be over, but we're excited about the steps we're taking towards building the next generation of maps."

The coming updates for Maps were the source of rumors since earlier in May as the conference approached.