Posted 05.17.2010 in Articles by Amanda
You have just moved into a new city but you do not know your way around. You have just heard from a friend about a new eat out that has opened up in the neighborhood but you do not know the directions to get there or you simply have to go travel across the town to attend to some business but you need directions to reach your destination. You go the old-fashioned way and buy a map of the town to get there which is fussy and hard to understand. But all this has a quick and easy fix now called map search engines. They provide with online maps with easy and detailed driving directions to the desired destination. These driving instructions can be saved as photos and can also be exported to your mobile phone or GPS navigation system. A number of such search engines are available for access on the web but the most used ones are My Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing maps and Yahoo Maps and Directions.
Google Maps is a web mapping service application and technology powered by Google providing a number of web-based mapping services including My Google Maps, Google Ride Finder, Google Transit and maps embedded on third party websites via Google Maps Application Programme Interface (API). It provides driving directions from point A to point B, simply, enter your location as point A and the address of your destination as point B, Google maps then displays the directions on the map and in words in the panel left of the window. These directions are available for four modes of transportation: driving, public transit, walking and bicycling. Cross-border routes can also be discovered on Google Maps. Through its Ride Finder feature, Google Maps helps its users to search and locate available cab, limousine and shuttle services in and nearest to your locality showing the actual location of the vehicle in the area. It also has a weather feature providing updates about the latest weather conditions and forecasts weather to help you plan your journey accordingly. It has recently introduced a new feature called My Google Maps which allows you to create your own maps on the website. You can store and organize the places on the map that you have visited so you can quickly find them again if the need be and can also rate them according to your likability. This geographic data can also be shared with other users of the service by making your maps available for the public to view. Although, other map search engines are also providing similar services but users find Google more easy and convenient to use.
MapQuest Maps is another map search engine that is quite similar to Google Maps. It can also act as a route planner by providing you with driving directions and maps which is as easy as entering starting and end addresses. Type in your address and that of your destination and the search engine displays the directions in a matter of seconds. It gives you information about the local traffic and road conditions; which routes are congested at the moment and which roads or highways are under construction or temporarily closed. Recently a new feature has been launched on the MapQuest maps website, the Neighborhood Guide which actually acts as a guide to restaurants, hospitals, schools and other enterprises and places in your neighborhood. Since this feature is relatively new so initially it is operational only for locations in the UK and USA. What is different about this map search engine is that it offers you to make reservations for hotel, flight and rental cars via the website. So while searching for directions in another city or country you can book a flight, hotel and rental car on the same website without wasting any time. Like My Google Maps, MapQuest Open by MapQuest maps allows you to create your own maps to organize and save your places and share them with other users of the search engine.
Bing maps are also a frequently used mapping service which is a part of Microsoft's Bing suite of search engine. It too provides with driving directions to your desired destination with updates on local traffic and road conditions. The traffic information on Bing maps is color coded with 4 colors relaying information on the traffic volume ranging from lightest to heaviest traffic volumes. The traffic and road information is also displayed as clear flow which basically displays the information in real time to help you avoid traffic congestion and it also anticipates traffic patterns. It offers you five different points of vision: road view, aerial view, bird's eye view, street side view and the 3-D view. According to a number of users, the best thing about Bing maps is that it provides navigation tips using landmarks for example take left from Burger King which is actually quite helpful in finding your way through streets.
Yahoo Maps and Directions helps you to find locations, directions, businesses and other data related to geography. Like all others, Yahoo maps and Directions provides maps in regular map and satellite view but they can also be viewed in a hybrid view in which the display window is divided to show you both map and the satellite view. Apart from giving out driving directions 'to' the desired destination, 'from' directions can also be discovered using the Reverse Directions or the Round trip options which can be really helpful to you while traveling in new areas. People like Yahoo maps and Directions because of its clean interface without pointless advertisements being thrown at you. One drawback is that maps and information cannot be saved as pictures or directly exported to mobile or GPS device.
Map search engines are convenient and time saving with a variety of services to choose from which not only provide with basic directions and route planning services but also provide you with many other features which save you a great deal of time and effort.