Google revamps Maps with 3D, cards, social search

The new version includes user-generated street views and live images of Earth's cloud patterns. Says Google: "The map is the user interface."

Google says it has rebuilt Google Maps for the Web with a new version that's more immersive and social.

The new version takes a page from Google's mobile efforts by putting the search box inside the map and making use of cards -- Google's take on interactive information widgets.

"It's simple and powerful. The map is the user interface," Google's Bernhard Seefeld told attendees at the company's annual developers conference, where the new Web service was unveiled.

When users click on locations, information about those areas appears on cards. Information can include navigation, which offers a comparison between driving times and public transit times in one spot. Maps also offers social results, showing places that friends have reviewed.

James Martin/CNET

The Maps interface features a 3D view, which Google says does not require any additional software or browser plug-ins. This is a similar experience to what Google has offered in its Earth app. In fact, users can zoom all the way out to see the entire Earth with a live view of clouds.

James Martin/CNET
Real-time clouds.
Real-time clouds. James Martin/CNET

One other new feature is a way to upload Photosphere images to Google Maps, which Google referred to as a user-generated street view. These can be uploaded by locations, adding an extra layer of information for people to view.

Details about several of the features leaked out ahead of I/O and were spotted by Droid Life.

Google is previewing the new version of the service this week. Users can sign up as part of the preview today. Google will start issuing invitations Thursday.

 

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