After opening up to public beta nearly a year ago, Google (s GOOG) finally announced Wednesday that its redesign of Google Maps will be available to everyone. The search giant first introduced the new Maps last May at Google I/O 2013.
According to a post on the company’s Maps blog, the new Maps will be slowly rolled out to users over the next few weeks. The maps are larger and easier to read, and the new design places an emphasis on being “smart”: users can not only bring up directions to a location, but also find the most efficient method of transport to get there (factoring in real-time traffic reports) and nearby places to stop. There’s also an enhanced street view mode, which is helpful to view routes or virtually sight-see new places.
I made the switch to the new Maps as soon it was announced last year, and I’ve found the experience so intuitive and pleasurable that it made deciphering the old Maps much more difficult. The new design also offers an easier way to get commuter rail schedules and bike directions — which, as a car-free New York resident, I’ve found to be much more informative (and accurate) than the older version. Perhaps most importantly Google Map’s desktop experience finally matches the mobile experience, making directions easier and more unified.
Below, see Google Map execs Jonah Jones and Bernhard Seefeld discussing Maps with Om Malik at Gigaom’s Roadmap conference last November.