Remember that shiny new Maps web interface that Google started showing off at I/O back in May? It’s here!
Technically, the new Maps interface has actually been here for a while… assuming you signed up for an invite shortly after it was announced and were able to make it through Google’s invite queue before they opened the floodgates today. (I signed up a few hours after the announcement and just got my invite a week or two ago.)
Need a refresher on what’s new? Here’s the bulk of it:
- A new, fullscreen interface
- Maps now uses vector data rather than graphical tiles for faster loading and handling
- You can now zoom way, way out. As in, out into space. They’ve built in a Google Earth-esque planetary view, assuming you’re on a beefy enough computer running a compatible browser (Chrome or Firefox)
- Photo Tours that let you explore famous locations through a series of stitched-together, user-submitted photos. It’s more trippy than it is useful, but it’s still worth checking out. (To see one, go to a major city [like San Francisco] and click the little expansion arrows in the very bottom right)
- Most routes will automatically show public transport alternatives alongside your driving options
- Quick comparison charts for public-transport options, graphing the difference in stops/overall time
But wait! Don’t head straight over to maps.google.come and expect the new look just yet. While they’ve ditched the invite queue and the whole having-to-wait bit, you’ll still need to opt in. To do so, just go to this page, scroll down to the bottom, and hit the “Try Now” button. It should let you in immediately.