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Google Maps Now Does Interactive Re-Routing 188

Posted by Zonk
from the madison-to-seattle-by-way-of-alaska-is-surprisingly-short dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Remember how cool it was the first time you used MapQuest or Google Maps or Google Earth? You'll feel like it's the first time again, when you use interactive dragging of routes on Google Maps. Some of the folks from the development team have even whipped up a handy video to explain the concept."
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Google Maps Now Does Interactive Re-Routing

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  • excellent feature (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sh0rtie (455432) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:57PM (#19695227)

    i noticed this today and its a good idea though the most complaints i hear from my customers (uk) when i point out how Google maps works and how to use it is the accuracy of driving directions, and so they tell me after using that they still prefer to use Mapquest/AA even though their visualisation of mapping is inferior to Google's, fancy draggable routes mean nothing if the directions are wrong or inadequate for route navigation and so i cant really argue with them because its true (in my/customers experience)
    while calculating directions is a very complex task (1 way systems, roundabouts, roads closed etc) i think this is a challenge that Google could excel at
    • by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:45PM (#19695619)
      That's interesting. I don't know about the rest of the world, but in the US Navteq provides the data for both Google Maps and Mapquest (and Yahoo! Maps as well, I believe). So you would think the directions would be no less accurate. On the other hand, I have definitely noticed the different services do often recommend different routes from the others, despite all being run by Navteq.

      Anyone else know more about this?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Shewmaker (28126)
        I visited Santa Cruz, CA last month and discovered that Google Maps, my rental car's GPS, and every other
        system evidently gives the wrong directions the the UCSC Inn. Right street, wrong end of it out in the
        middle of the woods.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:23PM (#19696225)
          Maybe the directions were right and the inn was in the wrong place...
        • by jc42 (318812)
          ... gives the wrong directions the the UCSC Inn. Right street, wrong end of it ...

          No doubt this was done intentionally, at the request of the Inn, so that when those evil Communists^WTerrorists won't be able to find the Inn when they're invading the town.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by timeOday (582209)
          My experience with my Garmin GPS is that you cannot rely on precise locations - especially of addresses, though also offramps at times. The best strategy I've found is to get the basic route (such as "now head east on US 89") from the GPS, but then use the signs on the road to do that, rather than looking too closely at the GPS.
      • Maps != Routes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Saturday June 30, 2007 @10:47AM (#19699387) Homepage
        The map data has nothing to do with the routes. All Navteq sells to Google and Mapquest is a massive amount of vector-data that maps streets in geo-spatial coordinates. It is up to Google and Mapquest to determine the shortest path between any two points using this data.

        It is more difficult than it sounds. Discovering the shortest path in a weighted map is a simple, well known algorithm that any third year computer science major would have studied. The problem is in the weighting. Things such as speed limits, number of traffic lights, road conditions, speed limits of intersecting roads, ourly traffic patterns - all of these affect the amount of time one route takes over another.

        Aside from the fact that it is impossible to be up-to-date with this data on a constant basis, some of it changes based on the time of day of your planned trip. For example your morning "shortcut" to work may not be any faster on the weekend when the main route is not as congested.

        I think in general, all the mapping sites to a remarkable job given the data they have access to. It is highly unlikely ny one site is "more accurate" than the other picking routes all of the time. What is probably happening is the place where you are going has some factors that have changed recently, or have not been acounted for, in one site vs. the other. You would for certain be able to find counter-examples that make the other site look better at other places in the country.
    • This is a feature that I've wanted for awhile. This is especially handy when trying to give directions to people. Automated routes sometimes aren't the best. A few tweaks and you could have directions that follow a route that you know is better or easier to follow. Avoid construction, bad intersections, traffic jams that will probably happen, but haven't yet.

      Thank you.
      • by EggyToast (858951)
        They seem to change them. I did a standard route here in Baltimore a few years ago, and it routed you through the city. Everyone in Baltimore knows that the ONLY way to travel outside of Baltimore is to get on the 695 beltway, even if it *seems* like it would be more direct to go straight through the city.

        So going from, say, north of the city to the IKEA, Google Maps directed people directly through the city. Which, of course, was mostly city streets at 30 mph with lots of lights. The way everyone *a
        • by plover (150551) *
          I think they've programmed it to "favor" expressways over local streets, but I'm not sure how it figures the payoff -- when is a square of three highways routing around a straight central local road a good idea vs a bad idea? They could have added the concept of beltways, or it could simply be that the beltway is a single road as opposed to a straight local street drive. Or it could be they've "decreased" the cost of expressways as compared to local streets, perhaps trying to keep unwitting travelers from
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jadin (65295)
      Suggest corrections. I did that (they had directions to my local airport incorrect) and they fixed it after relatively soon. I also contacted the airport itself and told them _they_ should contact google to expedite the process. Pretty sure they are actively trying to improve it based on my own experience.
    • by Ucklak (755284)
      Mapquest just got the branding first, courtesy of the dotcom boom.
      For a while, even Mappoint was a better alternative to Mapquest in some cities.

      People still use Mapquest just like people will still use Windows.
    • by silvwolf (103567)
      The feature came in very handy for me today. I was helping mom plan a route home from Kitty Hawk, NC, to Muncie, IN. She's getting there via my sister's house near Baltimore for a few days, so that trip is pretty easy, but we weren't sure what the best route home was.

      Both Googlemaps and Mapquest come up with a route that has 170 miles on US 35 through Ohio and a total distance of around 760 miles. If 35 through Ohio is anything like 35 through Indiana, it would take 5 or 6 hours to make those 170 miles -
  • I'd like to see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:57PM (#19695231) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see editing of the small turn maps that they have on the print screen. I don't need a little map to show me the turn out of my street at the beginning on the trip. I always get rid of it.

    However, I would like maybe to see the 3 or 4 major turns in the trip, or a close-up view of some smaller, complicated streets that don't really resolve in the map of the entire trip.
    • by Itninja (937614)
      Then don't map from your home. Map from your city. I just enter FROM: Seattle, WA TO: (my destination address) and it works great. I don't really need directions on how to get out of my own driveway and onto the freeway. If I did, I probably shouldn't be driving anywhere....
    • by Quaoar (614366)
      I cannot remember a single time in my entire life where I had to visit multiple stops and the order in which I visited wasn't painfully obvious. The traveling salesman problem is important to...traveling salesmen, not 99.99% of people who use Google maps.
      • Maybe in your city. I know where I live there are always mutiple ways to get to each place. BTW google doesn't set the order it just tells you the quickest path within the order you set. Which is handy because I've always wondered if it was quicker to take the interstate to my sisters house or to take the regular roads, now I know. (Actually I've always take the regular roads cause the interstate in under construction ladadeda, but you get my point).
    • by tool462 (677306)
      After playing around with this new version of google maps, it looks like you get a close-up view of the waypoints you generate when you reroute. It would be nice if it were automatic, but it's doable at least.
    • Re:I'd like to see (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zonk (troll) (1026140) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:02PM (#19695763)
      Well, if you're a AAA member you can get this now. For example, I just did a 1,300 mile drive and used AAA's website to get the directions. You set the starting location and the destination and then you can add things like construction information, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc. You can add multiple stops, force it to take certain routes, etc. It ends up with an overview similar to what MapQuest and Google Maps do, but then it also gives around 30 pages with detailed maps of every intersection and major area, alternatives, etc. It's really nice.

      This is why I don't bother with Google Maps or Mapquest any more. They're very primitive by comparison. Though, I do use Google Maps when I'm familiar with an area and am just not sure exactly where something is.
      • Well, if you're a AAA member you can get this now. For example, I just did a 1,300 mile drive and used AAA's website to get the directions. You set the starting location and the destination and then you can add things like construction information, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc. You can add multiple stops, force it to take certain routes, etc. It ends up with an overview similar to what MapQuest and Google Maps do, but then it also gives around 30 pages with detailed maps of every intersection and
    • Re:I'd like to see (Score:5, Informative)

      by OverlordQ (264228) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:21PM (#19695867) Journal
      However, I would like maybe to see the 3 or 4 major turns in the trip, or a close-up view of some smaller, complicated streets that don't really resolve in the map of the entire trip.

      See that number beside each point . . . try clicking it.
      • by EggyToast (858951)
        I know this is going to sound like blatant fanboyism, but this is the same subtle feature inclusion that brought me over to Apple. Little things that you think "hmm, what if I just try it and see what happens" and you realize that what you wanted to do was already coded, tested, and well implemented.

        Map software is the kind of thing that shouldn't rely on add-ons or extensions -- the core development team should be thinking of the various ways that people will assume, or at least hope, that the software
    • by CODiNE (27417)
      I can see wanting to add more mini-maps, but here's what I do right now. Click print, click cancel... then adjust the viewpoint on all 3. I like the 1st one to be an overview for a long drive, then the last one is close up of where I'm arriving, the 2nd I use for freeway exits or anything tricky. You can ALMOST get it how you want right now. Then click print again and you're good. (Clicking print formats it a lil better it seems)
  • I can now build customized directions for friends and family. So often the googlemaps or mapquest directions are correct, but not quite the best route, due to traffic, construction, or even landmarks.

    I can use this now, and my friends will not have to make the awkward left turn near the railroad tracks, and / or uturn, when it's just easier to make another block.
  • Traveling salesman.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by harrkev (623093)
    I also noticed that they did not solve the "traveling salesman" problem. If you add multiple stops, it will happily have you doubling back on your route. I have not yet seen a mapping program what will organize your stops in an optimal patters.

    Yes, I know that a solution to the traveling salesman problem would take an extreme amount of procesisng power (maybe years). But there are shortcuts that are "good enough" and can be accomplished a fraction of a scond on a modern processor even with 20 stops. Doi
    • you can add a stop and drag it in place on the left bar.
    • by nbert (785663)

      I also noticed that they did not solve the "traveling salesman" problem.
      Sorry to interrupt this, but if they had solved it we would have seen it on the frontage of every newspaper already, because right now it's not possible to do this on a larger scale.

      To give you a (slightly) linked example: It's like criticizing a chess program for not having calculated the best way to win in any kind of situation on an entire board.
      • by Cyberax (705495)
        You can solve salesman problem for most of practical means.

        There's a lot of heuristic algorithms that give a pretty good approximations for graphs with tens thousands of points. Works well in practice.
      • by fm6 (162816)
        RTFP dude. It's only 2 paragraphs long.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I also noticed that they did not solve the "traveling salesman" problem. If you add multiple stops, it will happily have you doubling back on your route.

      What are you talking about? Just because you 'double back' on your route does not mean it is inconsistent with the TSP. It may simply be the most optimal, for its definition of optimal route. Most software will optimise over travel time, rather than simply distance (you don't want to travel dirt tracks forever do you?) and usually it makes sense to retu
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by LnxAddct (679316)
      It's a little more complicated than the traditional salesman problem because these graphs are weighted and directed. Even then there are still good algorithms to calculate such routes. Most algorithms are "fast", but not 100ms or 200ms fast. For the speed and scale that Google does this at, it's pretty damn impressive. (Scale being both the size of the graph, and quantity of queries received)
      Regards,
      Steve
    • by sdnoob (917382)
      >> I have not yet seen a mapping program what will organize your stops

      microsoft streets & trips has had this feature a number of years. use it all the time.

      it also has just about all the other features people have mentioned in other comments (mark an "avoid" to reroute a generated path, for instance), and then some. all the mapping apps (online or off) have some routing quirks, and streets & trips is no exception, but aside from the business/attraction directory part being a bit weak, it's act
  • by slashgmg (895644)
    check this link http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/.
    A great tool that i have been using for long time.
    • by Itninja (937614)
      Oh yeah, this is TOTALLY the same thing.... NOT!
    • by acm (107375)
      Even though I agree with one of the earlier replies that point out that it is in fact not the same functionality, I would like to use this opportunity to plug my humble website that I believe is simpler and more intuitive to use than gmap pedometer. http://routebuilder.org/ [routebuilder.org]
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:13PM (#19695367) Homepage Journal
    Here's about a 0.2 mile distance routed [google.com] via San Diego, Florida, Miami, random bits of Canada and back right next door.

    And no, I have nothing better to do on this fine Friday evening. Heh.

    • by hawk (1151)
      *yawn*

      All in North America, you piker!

      Two weeks ago, I was getting directions to a casino where I had concert tickets.

      I thought the direction on the freeway was odd, and then it missed entirely, passed into Colorado, across to Boston, "swim the Atlantic"[1]and concluded in France. Even with the zip codes at both ends, this continued to happen

      [1] No, I'm not making this up!

      hawk
    • by Plutonite (999141)

      And no, I have nothing better to do on this fine Friday evening. Heh.
      Which is exactly what google is trying to say by hinting that you should take a hike, or something :)
  • I've been waiting for something like this for almost 10 years now. There have been countless times where the directions I'd get out of a map service are slower, even though technically shorter, than they could be. If I know a particular street is a mess because of construction, it will be nice to get a route that avoids that.
  • I particularly like the fact that now it will update the estimated travel time instantly. We are going to Southern CA this summer, and I wanted to know how many hours I would be adding to make a detour to visit family. I like how I was able to drag the route around and see the travel time change each time.....
  • by pipingguy (566974) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:20PM (#19695423) Homepage
    I discovered this feature only *after* cycling 20KM to a softball game the other night (I'm an overweight 44 year-old). The distance looked so small on the map and Google didn't inform me that it was uphill both ways. Bastards.
    • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:37PM (#19695567) Homepage
      http://www.mapmyride.com/ [mapmyride.com] will show you elevation profiles. I use this to plan my own cycling routes.
      • by pipingguy (566974) *
        That does look interesting, thanks.

        I'm new to the biking community and am a bit weirded-out by the stereotypical hard-core cycler type. They show up in the local bike shops in their spandex and seem to have an elitist attitude. Very bizarre.

        My bike is an aluminum frame mountain but with road wheels, since I live downtown, disc brakes (are disc brakes good?).

        I've bought a bunch of accessories that'll be installed tomorrow, what stuff do you recommend? I use my bike for trips for groceries mainly and I
        • by Carnildo (712617)

          I've bought a bunch of accessories that'll be installed tomorrow, what stuff do you recommend? I use my bike for trips for groceries mainly and I walk to work daily.


          I'd recommend a rear fender/mudguard, a tiedown rack for the back, and a wire basket in the front.
        • by wall0159 (881759)
          Don't worry about elitists - there're nobs in every community. Stick at the riding - it gets much easier :-)

          Disc brakes are good, but you probably won't notice much difference in the city.

          Yup - as the other poster said - mud guards. You might be able to find a rear carry rack that doubles as a mud guard.
          Get panniers (clip onto the carry rack) - heaps better than a backpack.
          get a lock and lights and a helmet
          bright coloured jacket

          Have fun!
          • by pipingguy (566974) *
            I notice that the brakes get a bit "grabby" but I have nothing to compare this to.

            RE: helmet, there's not much in there worth saving anyway. :)

            One fun part of biking was sort of hearing a bunch of cool guys in a truck-like thing yelling at me as they went by. I think they were saying something about them being homosexual and wanting to have intimate relations with their own mothers. I didn't catch all the details though, and I hope they eventually found what they were looking for.

            These days you have t
  • Cool.

    I use mapmyride to plan cycling routes, and noticed that it can now follow roads automatically, so now I only have to click on intersections instead of meticulously laying out the whole route. Is that related to this new feature from google themselves?
  • i can do this with my years old GPS device. nothing new here.
    • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @04:12AM (#19697999) Journal
      Do you think you could map a route for me and then fed ex me your old GPS device? Thanks in advance.
    • by jc42 (318812)
      Yeah, we have a Garmin 3600 that's a couple of years old, and it has something called "waypoints" that are supposed to do this. The problem is that the documentation is rather sketchy, and neither my wife nor I have ever quite managed to make it work.

      OTOH, last night she was looking at google maps, trying to plan a trip, and I offhandedly commented "Try dragging a point on the route." She instantly did the right thing, and it worked.

      Having a capability is one thing; presenting it in a way that users can a
  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:10PM (#19695801)
    Is it possible to route a destination through a junior college acting class?
  • This is an awesome feature. I really wish that they would have some way where you could print a higher than 72 DPI version of the maps (i.e. export to PDF for printing)..
  • Another Google feature invented more for its coolness factor than for its utility. Meanwhile, Google maps still lacks the most basic online maps feature: bookmarked locations. Yes, there's the weird feature that calls up old destinations if you can remember some part of the address. But I want a simple drop down list. Not hard to implement. Which is why Google doesn't have it — nobody there finds the chore challenging enough.

    I used to be the worst kind of Google fanboy, orgasmic at their every little
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:57PM (#19696377) Homepage Journal
    Firstly, excellent work Google Maps guys. This works beautifully - I can correct routes I take (359 to 323 miles in recent attempt) and send a URL to somebody. Awesome! I can also use it at tax time for figuring out mileage.

    So, one last feature request. Frequently I have several stops to make on a trip and I'd like Google Maps to figure out the best path to get me to each of them (including traffic, of course) and then back home again. Maybe you could put this on the list for the next release? Killer feature, I tell 'ya.

    You'd make this CS nerd's life easier - Thanks!

  • Drag-able routes are pretty cool, and no doubt very useful to some. However, I am between vehicles, so wake me up when Google Maps can plan my bus/subway route. It takes far too long to wade through pdfs of schedules and routes on my local transit system website.
  • by dwater (72834)
    It seems a bit conflicted as to where Elk [google.com] is :|

    It's actually located on the left, not where the green arrow is.
  • The brain-dead routing generated automatically has made me want manual re-routing for months now.
  • Google maps is nice but it still misses major features (maybe I just don't know they got it but I doubt it):
    1. Overlay radio station coverage on travel map
    2. Overlay cell carrier coverage on travel map
    3. Route via streets only - no highways. Some competitors allow this.
    4. Elevation/wind profile/local weather forecast along the route (e.g. for biking)
    5. Allow user to specify routing constraints (my fav: show route with fewest numbers of turns)
    6. Plan multi-day trip based on projected start times and end time
  • I, as many others, have a GPS system. More specific a TomTom. It would be really nice to have an extra feature where I can save the map as a TomTom (or any other device) Itternery and then load it onto my GPS.

    They could just add a link, so it would read at the right above the map:
    []Print []Email []Link to this page []Download route for GPS

    That would mean the best of both worlds and at least I would use google maps.
    • by houghi (78078)
      Well, I think I am a better programmer then all of Google is, because it took me and the people who helped me about one hour to make such a thing for my Tomtom
      http://houghi.org/tomtom/ [houghi.org]

      Now who can ante me up and make it in php?
  • At the risk of sounding greedy, how come no one has extended it to handle construction detours?

    With the wild temperature swings between seasons in Michigan, our roads are always being repaired. I can't imagine it would be too hard to scrape the projects from MDOT and tell Google to route around them.
  • This is a cool new feature. However, they also update the map data. Until recently the new development I lived in was on Google Maps so I had to use the nearest intersection. Not anymore! Good job Google.

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