I’ve been a big fan of Google Maps ever since it’s public release. The graphics are great. The ability to pan is cool. The API makes for some really neat mashups. Yes, Google Maps are fabulous, but the beta of Yahoo Maps is better.
If you’ve used Yahoo Maps before, the “old” service is still the default, but the beta is open and available to anyone.
Why do I like the new Yahoo Maps?
The Yahoo Maps beta is a lot like Google Maps. The map graphics have the same quality. You can click-and-drag to dynamically pan. Both Google and Yahoo have published APIs for extending their map services through mashups. Zooming is actually a bit cooler on Yahoo — with an animated zoom effect.
But there are three things that really set the Yahoo Maps beta apart from Google Maps.
- Birdseye View – After using CAD programs like AutoCAD and Microstation for many years, I’ve grown accustomed to the birdseye “finder” that gives you a small thumbnail view of the larger area, with the current view highlighted. Yahoo has done a very nice job of porting this functionality (very appropriately) to their maps. You can scroll by the old click-and-drag panning, or by clicking and dragging the highlighted area withing the birdseye window. Sweet.
- Find on Map – Google lets you search for local businesses and locates them on the map, but Yahoo adds commonly used categories for drill-down navigation as an option to free-form search. A nice touch, since not everyone is comfortable with search (as I’m constantly reminded in my KM work).
- Real-time Traffic Data – The real-time traffic data is the icing on the cake. Living and working in Southern California, avoiding traffic is an important part of my life. Sure, there are other websites that provide traffic data, but none of them are as slick and easy-to-use as the Yahoo Maps beta.
Now this beta is really a true beta… it’s not quite ready for prime time. It loads slowly, and is sometimes finicky (as true beta software often is). But it’s reliable enough that I now prefer to use it over Google Maps.
Check it out: Yahoo! Maps Beta