- Three new tabs allowing you to search for a specific place, search for a business, or get directions.Â This makes it a lot easier to get to the three main tasks you perform with this package.
- Double click to zoom in on a map, which makes it much easier to get detail on the map you’ve found.
- Continuous zoom, which smoothly zooms in on a map rather than repainting it.
The first two are obvious, and welcome,Â UI refinements.Â A Google product manager has clearly spent time watching Google Maps users at work, and concluded that searching and getting detail could be made easier. Because of the fact that they release to the web, instead of to a lengthy OEM or retail distribution channel, they can push these two changes to users immediately.Â Cool!
Continuous zoom?Â Well, sizzling new graphics features always sell to the geek crowd (me included!).Â But this is justÂ goofy.Â It’s definitely not in the category ofÂ sizzle.Â Â Continuous zoom isÂ an imitation of the same feature in Google Earth, but without the underlying graphics hardware support. Consequently,Â it stretches the bitmap, zooms in, and repaints it, rather than incremently streaming the changes in the way that Google Earth does.Â The result is jumpy, and looks like a bad zoomed-in image inÂ Microsoft Paint until the new bitmaps are put in.Â I’m guessing that they did it this way because AJAX applications likeÂ Google MapsÂ don’t have the same access to the raw graphics hardware on the PC that a native application like Google Earth has.