Google Map Maker, the still somewhat undiscovered gem of Google Maps which allows users to create and edit maps, is getting its new Google makeover today. Following the redesigns of other top Google properties including Gmail, Docs, YouTube and Reader, Map Maker’s updated user interface is meant to be easier on the eyes, while also increasing the service’s usability.
Map Maker, which launched in the U.S. in April of this year, is largely meant to extend the Google Maps service into countries where there isn’t much data, namely, emerging markets. In these regions, users can hand-edit Google Maps using an online tool, submitting details about roads, points of interest, features near a point and even geographic boundaries. These edits are moderated by Google, and, after approval, go live for all users of Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Maps for Mobile.
In the U.S., however, the feature was limited to map edits, not creation, allowing users to add greater detail to an area for things like bike paths, walking trails, campus maps, and other areas and features that aren’t traditionally found on maps.
With today’s update, the service has been improved, with a particular focus on first-time users. There’s now a new pop-up box that appears on the screen when you first visit the website, walking you through the tool’s use. In five screens, Google explains the icons used, how you add and edit places, add roads, and review edits by others. And it’s all so darned pretty. (Google is getting pretty – this still seems weird.)
Google Map Maker is now live in over 180 countries, including the U.S. and Canada.