Google Instant Maps

By Rebecca Greenfield

After last week's Google makeover, Internet users can't get enough instant gratification. The new Instant search engine has (not surprisingly) prompted the creation of Internet instant everything. Michael Hart, an Alabama based web designer, presents three instant versions of web favorites: Google Instant: Maps, Google Instant: Images, and Etsy Instant.

While Etsy and Images are OK, Instant Maps is the most entertaining. There's something kind of fun about zipping around the map, getting closer to the spot you're looking for. The site also provides a nice directions shortcut: you can type in your current location and where you're going and it simply draws the line connecting them.

Unfortunately, the current version of insta-maps does not know the user's current location, making its predictions less relevant. For example, if I type in K Street NW to White House into Google Maps, you get a rough map. If you do the same on insta-maps, it can't make a similar guess.

Hart explains that his version uses the same suggestions found on maps.google.com by employing an unofficial API which he claims "isn't documented, guaranteed, or supported, but is very easy to use, and it typically gives great results." However, without the official API, Hart's creation cannot approximate the user's geo-location. For now, typing the location, or partial city name, before starting the search improves results.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/09/google-instant-maps/62873/