As expected, Google unveiled a revamped version of Maps at its 2013 I/O developer conference in San Francisco.
The updated Google Maps, a preview of which is rolling out to developers from today, makes the search giant's mapping experience more personal. It incorporates the technology that powers Google Now into the Google Maps experience, "so it'll get better and better, the more that you use it," said Bernhard Seefeld, product management director for Google Maps.
The Maps team, Seefeld said, had three goals with the update: creating a separate map for every single user; combining all of Google's mapping services - from satellite imagery to Street View to indoor photos; and making everything simpler and more powerful.
As a result, "we went ahead and rebuilt Google maps from the ground up," he said.
As some recent leaks suggested, the search box and its results are now layered on top of Google Maps. Nameless pins are also replaced with search results labeled directly on a map, with a description for top results. Filters allow for search results that incorporate recommendations from friends in case, for example, you want a sushi place that someone you know has visited and liked.
For a quick peek into that sushi restaurant, the new Google Maps will allow users to quickly push inside for indoor photos and a 360 degree view.
In addition to providing a unique experience for the user, Google also wanted to make Maps more useful for businesses and other locations.
Seefeld highlighted the Randall Museum in San Francisco, which is only accessible via a small road that is normally not labeled on Google Maps. If you search for the Randall Museum on Google Maps, however, it's likely that you'd want directions there, so Google Maps will label that small road in search results. Similarly, if you search for a specific place, Google will make sure that Maps highlights all the roads that you'll need to take in order to get there.
Similarly, Google Maps will also highlight other landmarks that are similar to the one that you are searching for. If you search for the Randall Museum, for example, your map might also point out the Cartoon Art Museum or the Disney museum nearby.
For now, developers at Google I/O 2013 - all of whom were given a new Chromebook Pixel - will receive an invite to the new Google Maps when they pick up their new device. Everyone else can sign up for an invite at maps.google.com/preview and Google will start sending out invites thereafter.
An update to Google Maps for mobile, meanwhile, is also on tap for this summer. The mobile experience will also get a makeover, and Google promised a brand-new maps experience for the tablet. That includes a revamped "incidents experience," so you can get a heads up about a traffic accident, and get re-routed before getting stuck in congestion. For more, check out the demo video for the new Google Maps, below.