New Google Maps Tour


4 of 5 stars
What’s this?

The redesigned Google Maps comes with a handy virtual tour to acquaint users with what’s changed. That’s hardly revolutionary, but in a very nice bit of user experience engineering, the tour has some extra smarts built in. If, like me, upon first getting access to this new version you immediately start poking around and trying out various searches and only click on the tour option later, the tour’s messaging will cleverly acknowledge that state:

Google Maps Tour

Messing about with a new product unguided is a completely natural first use case for just about any product, and my guess is almost everybody does this. So creating a corresponding behavior for this tour makes perfect sense. Instead of assuming that the tour will commence with the product in its virgin state, this opening message says “It looks like you’ve already started exploring the new Google Maps!” and guides the user from there.

This took a little bit of extra design and engineering, and the end result does not make or break the product. But to me, it’s significant in that it clearly signals how much thought and care the product team has invested into the app. That’s worth loads.

If you don’t already have access to the new version, you can request access at the preview site, or read Google’s announcement from last month.