New Google Maps review: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

Bert Lance popularised the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in 1977 and two of the biggest IT companies in the World today could do with some reminding.

New Google Maps
New Google Maps – looks nice, but unusable

In September 2012, Apple considered that Google’s Android was such a competitor to the iPhone since the first iPhone appeared, that it was bizarre to continue using Google’s mapping application. So Apple wrote their own mapping application, which has received some severe criticism, and has caused some of the senior management to leave the company.

Google Maps is excellent, and they saw the opportunity to release an [excellent] iOS map app, which I use on my iPhone.

Google Maps, browser version is also excellent. The Streetview is great for becoming familiar with your destination before starting the journey, and the routing is excellent too, whether walking, driving or using public transport.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, said Lance.

Google sent me an invite a fortnight ago to look at the new Maps website, apparently written from the ground up (no pun intended) and I eagerly accepted the invite.

It looks lovely. But it’s awful to use. For instance, the map doesn’t show you where you are. The familiar right-click has disappeared, so you have to type source and destination addresses rather than just right-click on either of them and press ‘Directions to/from here’. Right click now shows a point of interest (usually a business) near where you right clicked, which I haven’t yet found a single practical use for.

Streetview now takes over the page with a tiny map, and you can’t drag the ‘person icon’ to see a different area on the map. To get back to map mode from Streetview used to be obvious – there was a traditional close button, now it’s an almost hidden, size 8 font hyperlink.

Google Maps is a big step backwards. As a client used to say every time he moved up a Windows version, “I’ve just downgraded to the latest version”.

4 thoughts on “New Google Maps review: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

  1. Agreed. I found your article trying to see if there was any remedy to the uselessness of the new version of Google Maps…in Chrome, nonetheless…and I agree with your sentiment. You can’t even mouse over a business, click on it, or anything to bring up more listing information. I wish there was a way to go back to the old version!

    1. Thanks Rebecca.
      Having used the new version for a while now, I still can’t find some features such as ‘Zoom to my current location’ and shortened URLs.
      Pressing the back button from Street View often loses the route that I had planned.
      I’m all for change, and progress, but the new version of Google Maps appears to be a step backward. It’s definitely a case of form-over-function.

  2. Google Map is unusable and irritating now. Stopped using gmail also. Back to mapquest.and hotmail

    1. Thanks ‘Snoopy’. I agree that many services are becoming more, even *too* complex, and ironically the ones which haven’t received so much new funding have kept their simplicity.

      The trick is to retain the usability with the ever growing complexity.

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