Get Google Maps !
By Google Inc.
Take Google’s aesthetic unification efforts however you want, but there’s no denying that it’s a statement of purpose. At the heart of every Google app is the information titan’s unending quest to quantify, index and share everything, so hurtling toward that singularity with an app that both looks and functions as nicely as Google Maps does at least means we’ll actually get there, necessary (and superfluous) information and all.
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Oh sure, we’re probably in some kind of information Golden Age. We’re basically living in an era where we look to so many little screens to give us all the Wikipedias, cat videos and eCards we can handle. News is sent out to the world in tinier and tinier parcels. We’re in the Era of the Hashtag (thanks, Facebook, for ruining the fun). But some of us actually have work to do, people to see, and places to go, so Thank Goodness for Google (TGFG—we’re coining it).
Case in point: Google Maps. Once the province of Internet-based wonderment, many trees were sacrificed as we plotted Points A, B and C, printed out the directions, and enlisted our best friend as co-pilot to navigate and keep the crucial tunes going. Then along came the portable, affordable personal GPS. Sorry, Mapquest. Now, almost anyone with a relatively new smartphone not only has a portable GPS at their disposal, but a really great one—and some of them probably don’t even know it.
Google Maps is finally making good on some of its (unspoken) promises. It took a while, but man, was it worth the wait. Depending on how much you’ve bought in to the Google ethos and ecosystem, Google Maps may already be your go-to GPS application. If it isn’t, well, there’s really no reason it shouldn’t be.
Its most recent redesign brings it more in line with the card-heavy, delineated Google app aesthetic we’ve seen since the introduction of the newest Android iteration (even the Internet interface is starting to ape those no-nonsense straight lines and bold, simple fonts). It’s as if Google has distributed an internal memo that says, “Guys, if your design doesn’t just scream ‘Give it to me straight, doc,’ then shut it down.”
When you open the app, you can see your current location (as long as your GPS location settings are turned on), indicated by a blue triangle on the map. Tap the ubiquitous Search Bar of Everything, enter your query and you’re off. Pinch or tap to zoom in and out, swipe around, explore. It’s your world—Google’s just helping you get around in it.
If your goal is to simply get from Point A to Point B and back, Google Maps will make sure that happens. And now, Google is doubling down on its presumed integration into your life, heart, mind and smartphone, and it’s giving you access to more, and more, and more. At one point, we had to use several apps to search for and navigate to local dives, restaurants and gas stations (the fact that these were treated as separate tasks for so long still confuses us), but that’s no longer the case. Within Google Maps, you can find all of those things and more.
If you know what you’re looking for, The Power of Google gives you that information and directions for how to get there—on foot or by car, bicycle or public transportation. If you’re simply searching for someplace to grab a bite or kill some time, Google Maps has you covered. Handy cards, a straightforward interface and Google’s informational might are all at your disposal.
What’s more, Google Maps isn’t even just about maps anymore. With Google’s purchase of the crowd-sourcing navigation app Waze, it gave itself a big boost in the real-time traffic update realm, and we’re already reaping the benefits. Plus, we love the way Google Maps communicates with our other favorite apps and web-based Google activity. Google Now? Yep. Did you just use your home computer to try to figure out directions to a specific place? Google Maps knows, guys.
Sure, we might be overly reliant on our tech, but we’re totally okay with that.
Reviewed: Apr 24, 2014 | Jared BowersAlso featured on: 10 Best Android Apps of 2013, Also featured on: Instagram Debuts “Direct” Messaging, Foursquare Cuts Private Check-Ins + Other App News For You, Also featured on: 5 Google Apps to Keep an Eye Out For