Google has begun the rollout of Google Maps 7.5, and while initial impressions were that nothing significant had changed, it seems that there’s been a few “under-the-hood” changes which may (or may not) greatly change the way you view information in the mapping application.
With this new version (and indeed, the newest version 2.5 for iOS) Google has integrated Gmail into maps. How does that work? What we’re seeing is that hotel, restaurant and flight reservations are being presented to users in maps in context relevant situations. For example, if you’ve got a flight booked from Sydney to Melbourne, and you view Sydney Airport on Google Maps, your flight details should — in theory — be shown below the standard Sydney Airport information.
We say “in theory” because it seems like many new features, this one is limited to US only at the moment. Experimenting here doesn’t seem to produce any results, so to show you how this feature works, we’ve had to take some screenshots from a US based website.
Shown above are airport, restaurant and hotel booking information.
This is a unique integration, and we can see some benefits from this approach. However, more often than not, the user experience here is a bit backwards. We’d imagine it’s far more common that you’d have your flights, reservations or whatnot in your calendar, which links across to an address which will display in Maps. Browsing around a map, clicking on where you think you’re going, and viewing business details with associated booking details seems a bit backwards… but hey, at least Maps 7.5 offers this for those that might find it useful.