In their ongoing drive to be the only source of information you’ll ever need, the folks at Google have unleashed yet another beta service in the form of Google Maps. As with their other services, Google Maps presents you with a clean and simple interface that ends up revealing a surprising amount of power at your fingertips. When you first hit the site you’re presented with a map of the United States with controls down the left hand side allowing you to scroll the map in four directions, zoom in and out, and so on. You can also drag the map around by left-clicking and holding and moving in the direction you want the map to move. There is a simple search bar and a couple of links to options such as Location or Directions searching. Then there are a series of example searches down the right hand side. Type in “Kansas City” and the map will spring to a closer view centered on the town. Type in “jfk to 350 5th, new york, ny” and get directions from the airport to 350 5th street in New York. That’s very slick. Not only that, but once you’ve got an initial location you can then refine your search further.
For example, the following map was generated by first typing in “Canton Michigan” (which is where I live) and then once there I typed in “Best Buy” (my favorite store) and it presented me with a listing of Best Buy stores down the right hand side starting with the closest in miles from where the map was currently centered along with lettered push-pins on the map indicating where they were located visually. Then when I clicked on the first link for the closest store it gave me this:
How friggin’ cool is that? I’ve only played with it a little bit, but it’s already won me over from the likes of MapQuest which was my former favorite map service. It’s getting to the point that I find myself paraphrasing Homer Simpson by dreamily saying things like, “Google. Is there anything it can’t do?”