Google opens new Maps web interface to all, brings Earth integration and more

google maps new worldSince Google unveiled its revamped Maps for the web at I/O in May, access to the new look and features was only available on an invitation-only basis.

Evidently happy with the way its coming along, the Mountain View company has just opened up its preview version to all, though you’ll have to sign in to your Google account (or create one) before you can check out what’s new.

“Building a smarter map is a journey, and we’d like you to join us in previewing the new Google Maps,” the company says on its access page, adding that it may email you for feedback as it moves towards a final release.

google maps preview

The new version sees the elimination of the left vertical sidebar, allowing the map to fill the screen. Based on your history of searches, reviews and ratings, the map will make “smart recommendations” that, hopefully, suit your tastes. “The more you use the map, the better it gets,” Google says in a promo video (below).

Recommendations and reviews will also be pulled from your Google+ friends, if you’ve joined the service, helping you to make more informed choices about what to do and where to go.

Click on a business or address you’re thinking about visiting and nearby roads and landmarks will become more prominent to give you a clearer idea of its exact location. A box will also appear in the top left of the screen offering more information about your intended destination.

Click on directions and the best routes from your current location will show up. However, a variety of transportation options will appear in the box and on the map, allowing you to compare distances and times.

google maps new

Maps still, of course, includes Street View, though now there’s integration with Google Earth too – no plug-in required. So now, open the carousel and you have quick access to Street View, business photos and photo tours, while Earth View pulls the 3D experience from Google Earth, allowing you to get an even more realistic view of a huge variety of locations around the world.

The early response to the new design on Maps’ Google+ page is mixed so far, with comments ranging from “impressive” to “slower to load” to “it’s actually a downgrade”.

This is, however, a preview version, so Google should be listening to gripes and grievances and making fixes where appropriate. But forget what other people are saying and go try it for yourself!

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.