New Google Maps: where the world is an open book

Is there anywhere Google hasn’t mapped?

They’ve certainly covered a lot of ground since bursting onto the scene in 2005. Thanks to Google Maps you can see North Korea by mouse rather than motorcycle. Religion is no longer a barrier to visiting Mecca or the Wailing Wall.

Google’s backpacks go where their cars fear to tread. Without leaving your chair, you can dive into the Grand Canyon, surf the Amazon River and swim the Great Barrier Reef thanks to this gentle Internet giant.

If you’re concerned, after reading this, that Google has taken all the mystery and anonymity out of seeing the world, then the new(ish) Google Maps is not for you.

Launched a couple of months back – I’ve been waiting for a quiet week to post this – it has integrated a whole lot of experiences so you almost never have to leave Maps again.

So, how does it help your real estate search experience?

Let’s say you spot a house on Open2view in St Heliers. Thanks to Open2view you’re well acquainted with the house itself; now you wish to find out some more about the neighbourhood.

At this state you’ve usually got two options. Our ‘Points of Interest’ feature allows you to check out what’s in each listing’s vicinity – including schools, shopping, walks, beaches and more.

NGM St Heliers small points of interest Open2view

NGM St Heliers recreation points of interest Open2view
For everywhere else, there’s new Google Maps.

NGM St Heliers Satellite Open2view

From here you can do all sorts of things:

The Info Card in the top left corner lets you search for directions. They now provide cycle-friendly routes, and real-time traffic data, so you can avoid any jams. You can now also save your search, switch to Street View in one click, and check out the local restaurants/cafes/bars. (Click the below image if you want to actually read the restaurant names.)

NGM St Heliers restaurants Open2view

The latter option is pretty handy if you’re hungry. You can click on each place and see what others think of it before you go. They’ve integrated their social media channels into Maps too; if you have friends on Google+ (add us!), or Yelp, their recommendations and reviews will show up first.

As you can tell, I vastly prefer the more detailed Google Earth view to the map view. By clicking on the photos at the bottom you can see photos uploaded to Google by members of the public. They’re not always useful but they can be super interesting, as proven by this photo of a 1974 Auckland rainbow.

NGM Auckland rainbow Open2view Google

Auckland rainbow Google Maps

The more you use the new Google Maps, the more tailored the search results become. If you display a penchant for Italian food, for example, Google will tailor its restaurant recommendations accordingly. Matthew Stibbe described this on Forbes.com as “very cool”. Those who value convenience over privacy will agree. Civil liberty types? Maybe not so much.

There’s another argument worth considering. One commenter underneath that Forbes article posed this question: “If it only ever shows me places that I already know and like or my friends already know and like then how will my friends and I ever find new places to get to know and like?”

A fair point. Google Maps can squeeze some of the spontaneity out of life; it’s very tempting to go nowhere new without first checking what others did there, and what they thought of it. It’s increasingly harder to take the road less traveled when Google’s gone and mapped eight million kilometres of them.

That’s the world we live in now. We at Open2view are just as responsible as anyone: thanks to our website, photography, videos, floorplans, walkthroughs, and everything else we provide, there’s very little mystery and guesswork left when searching for real estate. And a good thing, too.

For those who share our outlook, the new Google Maps is brilliant.

Have you tried the new Google Maps out yet? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts below or make your way over to our Facebook page.

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