Saturday, November 24, 2007

What Driving Directions to Use? Google or Map Quest?

The younger you are, the easier it is to take technology for granted. Whether you are cynical or, like me, more easily entertained, I find mapping services like G-Maps or Map Quest simply miraculous. The people who have assembled this technology over the last 10 years are geniuses.

If you never tried this marvelous service, go to right now. It doesn't matter where you are going... the shortest most up to date driving directions and road maps are moments away.

I have been using Google Maps for a quite some time. Their technology continually improve, and alongside with it, the detail of the maps has improved substantially. There are other main web properties that provide geo mapping with great success as well. The big 3 are Google, MapQuest and the granddaddy of them all, Rand McNally.

Below are cursory reviews of G-Maps, MapQuest And Rand McNally, reading them should cut down your learning curve when you arrive.

After years with MapQuest I typically use G-Maps lately (although Map Quest still has 1 exclusive feature I will let you know about in a minute). My preference for this Google service developed after finally reading their very easy to grasp directions.

If Google keeps going like they have they will be in charge of the world in ten years. Google has excellent point-to-point mapping worldwide but their real power comes in their satellite mapping.

To try and cover all of G-Maps in this review would fail, so let's look at the main features of the site and you can discover the rest after you get there.

All of G-Maps is based on actual earth satellite imagery. You can quickly locate Physical maps, Political maps, Road maps and Topographic maps anywhere on the planet.

You can zoom into Eiffel Tower in Paris and actually distinguish tourists walking around or see the traffic entering the on ramp of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Map overlays can be added for almost anywhere as well.

Perhaps the most exclusive tool of mapping is the users ability to change any route the service plots. If you need to go another route all you have to do is drag and drop the route trail to another point. Time and again you want to go to alternate points on your route... other sites won't let you do this, with Google it's a breeze.

Rand McNally has been making maps since 1872, if you do the math, what you'll note right away is that's a long time. All truck stops in the US as well as big gas stations sell Rand McNally maps. They are mostly in the printed map business but also have a website that provides online maps and directions. They are a great way to cross check directions from other services.

MapQuest has been around since the good old days of the internet... 1996... so by e-standards, it's very mature if not antique. AOL purchased it in 2000 and remains in charge.

I have used Mapquest 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 world in their quality and detail. US directions are totally detailed and usually quite accurate. In some growth areas they can be a little behind, simply because of trying to stay current with new growth can be difficult.

Map Quest has a "Gas Prices" icon right on the top menu bar that will search for the best prices costs anywhere in the US. This is a real money saver and I check it before every fill up if I can.

Between the three of these websites, you should be able to find your way around anywhere on the earth.


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