A few ideas for Google Maps

Written by Adrian Holovaty on February 8, 2005

Being a map buff, I can't get over how cool Google Maps is. It crushes the competition.

That said, I have a few ideas for improving it:

  • When driving directions expand past the bottom of the page, requiring the user to scroll down, it's tedious to click on one of the directions and have to scroll up to see the turn-specific map for that direction. Perhaps the directions could be in a <div> with overflow: auto set, so no scrolling would be necessary.
  • From the main page, I zoomed in all the way, just for fun -- but I had no idea where that took me. (Nebraska? Kansas?) It'd be helpful if the site displayed the name of the city and state in the case when the entire map's contents are certain to be within a single city.
  • Incorporate public transportation. Add an "I'm taking public transit" option, which would change the driving-directions algorithm to look at public-transit routes.
  • Incorporate current traffic. Scrape (or partner with) traffic sites so that the system weighs current traffic patterns -- influencing the driving directions and displaying an "estimated time" for each leg of the journey.
  • Incorporate Google Suggest, so that addresses are auto-completed.
  • When will a driving-directions program advise me to use Lower Wacker Drive? That really is the Turing Test for map programs that give directions in Chicago.


Posted by Ben on February 8, 2005, at 3:43 p.m.:

Along the lines of current traffic, I think it would be nice to have an option on a driving directions map that offers alternative routes, or allows a user to filter out highways (like if I want to get directions for a walking, bike or scooter route where a highway isn't an option.)

Posted by Rob on February 8, 2005, at 5:34 p.m.:

Regarding your zoom comment:

One of the best things about Google Maps is that you can just drag the map and it moves seamlessly. Navigating (and zooming) always bothered me on Mapquest, etc. because you briefly (or sometimes permanently) lose your context when the page has to refresh the image. It'd be nice if they could find a way to at least simulate a zoom, perhaps by drawing a outline box on the area to be zoomed, and then actually zooming. Or maybe you do a picture in picture thing, where a smaller version of the next zoom level (or the appropriate amount of zoom levels) up is displayed.

But yes, displaying city and state information would be helpful as well.

Posted by Nathan Logan on February 8, 2005, at 7:58 p.m.:

Or if they want an advertising/money stream option, incorporate it with some little red houses, indicating that there's a house for sale (or rent, or whatever) at that location (once you get to a meaningful zoom level, that is).

Posted by Saheli Datta on February 8, 2005, at 9:01 p.m.:

It crushes the competition but still incorporates the same lousy directions to a lot of places (like my house.) But I think they have a much better interface for changing that. Utilize the loyal google-fan hive mind: if you can think of better directions, feed them back to computer somehow.

Posted by Felix Salmon on February 9, 2005, at 1:23 a.m.:

It failed the turing test for New York, as well.

Posted by Will on February 9, 2005, at 12:05 p.m.:

You got that right Saheli, love the maps but directions are lousy (as with Yahoo), these programs are fixated on interstates. I asked for directions from my house in MS to my brother's in FL and the directions added 150 miles and over 2 hours to the trip time.

Posted by Josh Renaud on February 9, 2005, at 1:35 p.m.:

Hrmm... I've been seeing a lot about Google Maps lately, but I still can't see the website to try it out. Is there some trick I'm missing?

Posted by Eric K on February 9, 2005, at 1:49 p.m.:

Interestingly, if you zoom all the way in you will find yourself at 4300 Rd. just outside Dearing, Kansas which (according to Google Maps) is the center of the USA

Posted by anonymous on February 9, 2005, at 10:57 p.m.:

Type Google and then search for Maps and it's the first hit. maps.google.com

Posted by Neek Full of Fun on March 8, 2005, at 4:34 p.m.:

I mailed Google a while back about the lack of public transport. They did not reply. Perhaps someone need to point out how bad it is for the whole world if no one took public transport. Perhaps they assume that those who have computers don't take buses... or perhaps they are evil after all!

Posted by anonymous on September 10, 2005, at 8:25 p.m.:

I emailed google about the public trasportation thing a while back, and they replied saying that they would consider adding it.

Another idea I've had is that I'd like to see drawing, tracing, and highlighting tools added to the map.

Posted by Bennington Purcell on February 4, 2006, at 5:02 p.m.:

i agree with your suggestions and i would love to add a walking feature. so you could draw out your walk or hike and get information like that. it could show you things like the long trail or you could upload GPS data and get a map of your bike ride or such

Posted by Joseph Coddingtyon on May 17, 2006, at 12:36 p.m.:

It would really be nice if Google Maps would allow a selection for local street routs. I have an electric bicycle, and I am not allowed on highways. At this time I get a Google Maps Directions, zoom in, and plot my course by scrolling a little at a time, until I find my way to my destination. The hybrid view is useful for doing this. Of course if someone knows a map service that already has this function, I would use it.


Posted by kristin on June 17, 2006, at 8:18 a.m.:

I am trying to find a site that allows me to put multiple locations into the site and it comes put with the best and shortest route... I have been searching for a site like this, cant find one. if anyone knows of one please email me the site!!! -- kristinlansdon@aol.com

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