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Google I/O 2013: Google Maps Updated with Improved Navigation, Earth Integration, and Suggestions

During the Google I/O 2013 opening keynote, the Mountain View-based company revealed the changes that will be integrated in Google Maps. According to the statements of he Google officials that stepped on the stage of the San Francisco-based conference, the new Google Maps update is the biggest since the service was launched in 2005 and it will bring interface changes both for the web version and in the applications for the mobile platforms.

One of the important changes is the switch to vectorial maps, used for the smartphone and tablet Google Maps version for almost two years, but which only hit the web version as of now. This change promises improved performance during loading and zooming in and out and better visibility for small details like secondary streets. In order to take advantage of the vectorial maps, the user must use the WebGL accelerated version of Google Maps.

After the vectorial maps will be introduced, Google Maps will also make use of the Google Earth data, promising a more complex 3D environment than the current one, which will include the important buildings and images from inside them. The Google Maps navigation services were also improved, now allowing more routes to be calculated, routes and route duration comparison for more means of transportation, and, for the mobile version, recalculating routes based on the traffic intensity.

The Google Maps web interfaces went through important changes, now looking like an web application rather than a simple web page. It is now borrowing the already popular Cards to make the relevant info more visible, integrates your Google Plus friends’ reviews and notes in the search results, it natively integrates with information gathered from Google Plus, provides richer additional information, like the working hours or the traffic in an area.

A new Google Maps feature is Explore, which allows the user to customize the results list based on certain filters like cultural landmarks, food areas, or others like it.

The Google Maps for mobile platforms will also receive an update, with a cosier user interface. On this occasion Google announced that it will also update the iOS app, which will become compatible with the iPad tablets.

The new Google Maps will hit the web soon, and if you are interested you can request an invite on this page. The new Google Maps apps for Android and iOS platforms will be launched this summer.