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Maps Applications: Separated at Birth  (View post)

Sam Davyson [PersonRank 10]

Friday, March 31, 2006
14 years ago

Answer: Yes.

Is it just me though or do all the other maps services try to do this clever zoom trick before loading this next zoom level. What I mean is when you click zoom in rather than the images dissappearing like they do on Google Maps, on Virtual Earth / Yahoo / (probably) Ask the zoom level you were looking at is enlarged and then the new level loads. This just makes it look horrible and fuzzy. I also find at the closest zoomed in level the other maps lack the clarify of Googles.

Sam Davyson [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

(Edit: Ask doesn't do this)

Dave [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

what about mapquest?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

MapQuest has a very different approach I think. They were the kind of maps applications that were done before Google Maps, with a different design philosophy. It's sort of like maps.msn.com or us.map24.com

Adam Doupe [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I believe that they all use the same info for their back-end navteq.com/

I bet that explains a lot of the similarities. Also, how many ways can you display a map? How many of those ways are better than google maps?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Ask, by the way, has the strongest resemblance to Google Maps. They copy almost every element and make it look almost exactly the same.

OREO [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Google Maps is the best. It gives you the best control over the others!

Sam Davyson [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

>I bet that explains a lot of the similarities. Also, how many ways can you >display a map? How many of those ways are better than google maps?

Well I would say too main ways. The old way (MapQuest, Yahoo Maps (not Beta), MSN Maps etc.). These are static. And the new way (Google Maps, Live Maps, Ask Maps, Yahoo Maps (Beta)). These are draggable.

I see what you are saying. In the draggable variety is there much scope for different UIs. I think one that is all map with "no sidebar" would be possible. Some services could have placed the sidebar horizontally. Some could have placed it on the right. It is just the way that all of them have done it *exactly* the same way that Google did.

Yahoo maps by the way is the worst in my opinion. It uses Flash (or similar).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

> Also, how many ways can you display a map?
> How many of those ways are better than
> google maps?

In retrospect the Google Maps way may seem like the "natural" one but it was very innovative when it came out (as ever so often, not by adding more features but by removing some and making the whole thing more usable). It may be obviously easier to just start off with an almost full-screen map and a simple search box and a vertical info layer to the side, and to have that kind of zoom widget. But before Google Maps, map applications simply didn't look like that... they offered you multiple input boxes, they were cluttered (just as MapQuest and maps.msn.com still are), and they didn't let you explore as fast.

CJ Millisock [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Yo where's the movie playing?
Upper West Side dude!
Let's hit up Yahoo Maps
to find the dopest route!

I prefer Mapquest!
That's a good one too.
Google Maps is the best!
True that! DOUBLE TRUE!

acoustictechno [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #


IT"S A REVELATION.

They all shaped north america the same way.
Write a blog post about it.

How different can you even make these maps?
not very.

Ben B. [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

You might remember that originally Google had a different layout.... so who's doing the copying now?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Just for reference, here are past layouts of Google Maps and Google Local:

- Google Maps February 2005 (launch date)


blogoscoped.com/files/googlema ...



- Google Maps October 2005


blogoscoped.com/files/google-m ...



- Google Local October 2005


blogoscoped.com/files/google-m ...



blogoscoped.com/files/google-m ...

/pd [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Phillip, you just cut some very intruging stuff!!

Solly I can't elabrate further ..but your reference's certainly make me think entirely differently..

When consumption is completed, I'll offline you!!

Justin Pfister [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

It proves my point that what Google does, for the most part, in unable to sustainably differentiate themselves from their competition, except for Gmail. Their search is wonderful, but I often use Yahoo and get what I'm looking for.

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Justin, I don't think they are unable to differentiate themselves. When Google Maps first came out, it was miles ahead of other online maps. The problem is the other companies were quick to take notice and follow suit. And they had the benefit of taking what worked and improving what didn't.

Google either needs to consistently innovate at a high-level to keep everyone else playing catch-up all the time (and somewhat limited in coming up with their own innovations in their effort to catch up) or they need to substantially improve existing services. That last item has happened when Google added things like Satellite views, but as many have noted far too many services remain stagnant.

alek [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

This was very cool – good to get a snapshot in time – I hope you circle back a year or so from now Philipp and provide an update.

Caleb E [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

One thing that's interesting about all of these map apps when compared to google is that they all have very nice, pretty interfaces, but if you turn off javascript, only Ask and Google still work without any work on the part of the user. And in fact they work in similiar ways, by first attempting to load the map then redirecting to an HTML only search box. Yahoo gives a link to thier old map and Live tells you how to enable javascript in IE (and gives no link to msn maps)

wazoox [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Ask.com has real orthogonal images, much better quality than google maps. Look at Manhattan on both, you'll see the difference!

Miel [PersonRank 4]

14 years ago #

the best thing ever though is map24.com – it's a java app but I've been using it for over a year and it's very accurate...

Justin Pfister [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Niraj, I agree that they can definitely differentiate themselves, but my main point was that they can't seem to ""sustainably"" differentiate themselves. Is it worth it for Google, the company, to put all this money and resources in innovating when someones going to just copy what they did in a few months. Most likely, they have no choice. They can't just sit their stagnant.

Maybe in time, it will prove that it doesn't matter if people copy you and all that matters is that you produce first. Look at the MillionDollarHomepage.com for example. It only mattered in this case to be the first. Unfortunately, Google, MSN, Ask and Yahoo function in a more complicated environment than the milliondollarhomepage.

John K [PersonRank 2]

14 years ago #

This is a case where the interface copying / standardization is good for the users. Everyone only has to learn one interface and one set of idioms to use a web map.

That should increase the number of people using these tools.

The bad side is that innovation may slow down.

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