I don't know about you, but when it comes down to figuring out the "where" of my life on my smartphone, Google Maps is pretty much it. On the Android, the Maps experience is great and complete, but on iOS, the maps app can be a bit lacking. Thankfully, Google offers an equalizer in its mobile website - which comes complete with biking directions and places.
In comparison to the website, however, the Google Maps mobile website has been straggling and today the company announced that it is updating the site to a set of features parallel to those found on the Web.
According to the blog post, 40% of Google Maps usage comes from mobile devices and Google wants to ensure these users get a consistent experience. Before now, the mobile website was missing a number of popular and useful features that it will now include. While some of it (like seeing your current location - you could do that already, yes?) sounds familiar, here's what Google says it has updated on the mobile website:
- See your current location
- Search for what's nearby with suggest and auto complete
- Have clickable icons of popular businesses and transit stations
- Get driving, transit, biking, and walking directions
- Turn on satellite, transit, traffic, biking, and other layers
- View Place pages with photos, ratings, hours, and more
- When signed into your Google account, access your starred locations and My Maps
For you iOS users out there, you may be all too aware that the Google Maps app is sorely lacking many of these features. The biking directions feature, for example, takes into account terrain and bike path options when plotting your route. If you try instead to use the walking directions on the native app, you might find yourself on a terribly busy road that's fine for walking, but not so great for biking. The layers are also great for viewing different information overlays, such as bus routes and bike paths, and again far outpace the native app. The nearby suggest and auto complete feature is another great one for the mobile experience. Instead of typing in the full name, Google can beat you to the punch and save you from battling with your phone's auto-correction feature and the incompatibility between your short stubby fingers and the tiny keyboard.
On a side note, we have to love how Google notes that "when you visit maps.google.com on your phone or tablet's browser and opt-in to share your location, you can use many of the same Google Maps features you're used to from the desktop." The emphasis added is ours, but that seems to be a timely phrase to include given recent concerns over location sharing.