I realize I am probably dating myself just a little… but web based map services like Google Maps or MapQuest just astonish me. Whoever figured out how to map any block on the planet in 5 seconds has got to be rich… if not they should be.
If you never tried this wonderful service, go to maps.google.com right now. It doesn’t matter where you are going… the shortest most up to date driving instructions and maps are seconds away.
G-Maps has been my choice for a few years already. The know-how in the geo-mapping arena has advanced remarkably yielding amazing immediate maps of most of the planet and directions to just about any place in the world.
I’m going to do a brief review of these three, which hopefully will save you some exploration time when you enter the websites.
I switched to Google Maps after using MapQuest for nearly 8 years (more about MapQuest below). What switched my allegiance after all those years, was examining the instructions at Google Maps. You know, when all else fails read the instruction?
It is a marvelous piece of technology which will present you with both maps nearly anywhere in the world and detailed driving instructions in many countries.
To try and cover all of Google Maps in this review would fail, so let’s look at the central features of the site and you can uncover the rest when you arrive there.
You can see earth satellite images all over the planet and superimpose streets on those satellite images, it’s very cool. All the key map categories are available to view.
You can see people wandering around Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or read the home plate logo at Coors field in Denver. In many parts of the world, you can also generate point to point driving directions.
Another exclusive feature of Google Maps is that it lets you to alter the route it has laid out for you, simply by dragging the route marking to another point. We often know alternate routes, learned by experience that we want to stick to. The other services will not let you change the path… with Google Maps it’s easy.
Rand McNally has been making road atlases for a very long time. Word has it that Fred Flintstone used their atlas. They still favor the printed map or atlas and publish a lot of them. Next time you stop at a gas station check by the register, I bet you’ll find Rand McNally atlases for sale. Now, having said that, they have excellent e-maps and directions. I find them especially effective for comparing routes with Google or MapQuest as a double check kind of thing.
MapQuest has been around since the good old days of the internet… 1996… so by e-standards, it’s very old if not ancient. AOL bought it in 2000 and remains in charge.
I have used Map Quest thousands of times and they always deliver. They have great maps for the US, Canada and Europe but are weaker in the rest of the planet in their quality and detail. US directions are totally detailed and usually very accurate. In some growth areas they can be a little behind, simply because of trying to stay current with new growth can be challenging.
The last chief feature on MapQuest, is that it will search for the least expensive gas or diesel no matter where you are in the US. It’s a good way to keep an eye on your fuel budget and it only takes about 30 seconds.
Between the three of these websites, you should be able to find your way around anywhere on the planet.