Google’s New Web-based Maps – Review and Report

A drive through Austria planned using Google Maps

A drive through Austria planned using Google Maps

By Jonathan Spira on 24 February 2014
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When it comes to planning a trip, I frequently turn to Google Maps on the Web.  It has always been a reliable source of information for getting from point A to point B but I’ve never been fully satisfied with the user interface.  Since May of last year, Google has slowly been rolling out a new version of Maps to its users., The new interface will soon be accessible to all users.

Just last week, the new version came to my browser.  The map now fills the entire window, with a white search box in the top left corner.  The interface is simpler and more elegant – and also much improved.  Information and options are more clearly presented.

One of the most common uses I have for the Web version of Maps is planning a road trip.  As a test, I planned an upcoming drive from the BMW Welt in Munich to Évian-les-bains, France.

A preview mode took me through the itinerary, step by step, with photos from Google Street View showing what to expect.  The preview resembled what a car’s navigation system would show as one traveled the actual course.

The route selection provided some interesting information depending on the choice of transportation, such as car, plane, train, bicycle, and on foot.  My route, which should have taken five hours and 36 minutes by automobile (it’s 344 miles or 554 kilometers) would have been one hour and 15 minutes by plane and 96 hours on foot.  Had I opted to pedal a bicycle, it would have only taken 31 hours.

It’s now easier than ever to add waypoints to a trip.  Click on the plus sign to add more stops after entering the starting point and destination.

You can reorder an entire trip using up and down arrows and can also drag and drop entries to see how a change impacts a journey.


In many cities in Europe, I tend to leave the car parked and rely on public transportation.  The new Maps program makes it much easier to determine alternate routes, especially in unfamiliar places.

To test this, I first tried a route I’ve taken countless times, going from my apartment in Munich to the University, a fairly straightforward trip, and then a somewhat more complex trip from the airport to my former apartment.

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