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Google Removes "Search Nearby" Function From Updated Google Maps 255

Posted by timothy
from the where-are-you-again? dept.
First time accepted submitter BillCable writes "One of the most useful and intuitive features of Google's Map tool was the "Search nearby" link. After searching for a location, users could click on a marker on the map to pop open a window with the address and other details. This window also contained a link to 'Search nearby' — extremely useful if you want to find a list of restaurants near a hotel, the closest pharmacy, or any other business you might want to patronize. Google recently updated their map tool, and 'Search nearby' is no longer present. The 300 posts to the Google Product Forums complaining about this omission indicates this is a feature Maps users sorely miss. Google's work-around (detailed by Google staff in said thread) are a poor substitute and unreliable. There is no indication Google will add the feature to their new tool. For now users are able to revert to the original Google Maps with the 'Search nearby' feature intact. But there's concern that when Google discontinues support that the feature will be lost. So why would Google remove one of its best features?"
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Google Removes "Search Nearby" Function From Updated Google Maps

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  • by s_p_oneil (795792) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @02:22PM (#45978005) Homepage

    Maybe it's because only 300 people know about it? Yes, that was a joke, but seriously Google Maps has millions of users, and Google knows how many people click on it. If the vast majority don't (even if it's due to not having a clue), I could see why Google might drop it.

  • Patent problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob Y. (110975) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @02:25PM (#45978041)

    Let me guess. Somebody else got a stupid patent on 'search nearby' functionality?

  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @02:25PM (#45978051)

    Yahoo is dead as fried chicken.

    I don't know why Google would remove this feature, but you can be sure it probably has something to do with their strategy to shove everyone over to Google+ at gunpoint

  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @02:29PM (#45978101)
    Maybe its because you can simply pull up an area on the map and type what you are looking for in the search bar (i.e. restaurants) and essentially get the same result.
  • Re: click-throughs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrowdedBrainzzzsand9 (2000224) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @02:40PM (#45978237)

    Google has better control of ads if they decide what you want to find.

  • Re: click-throughs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @02:46PM (#45978293)
    Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner!

    And now we're starting to get into the "you're the product" stage of Google. Google Shopping now is a pay-for-inclusion system, and soon Maps may head that direction.

    I guess that the $64,000 question is how far will it go before either Google stops pushing it, or before they find that they have competitor that outperforms them and resists a purchase attempt...
  • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @02:47PM (#45978311)

    google is a corporation and their main products are services...

    Correction: their main products are users. Services are just part of the manufacturing process for producing users to sell to their customers.

  • by Badooleoo (3045733) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @02:47PM (#45978313) Homepage

    And use Open Street Map http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]

  • Re:Just a guess (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:00PM (#45978455)

    "I'd think that they'd be collecting usage data and be aware if this was a useful feature or not."

    Useful to whom? This is a point I made elsewhere in this thread:

    Simple traffic analysis doesn't cut it. Let's say only 20% of your users ever use this feature. BUT... if that feature is very important (valuable) to that 20%, getting rid of it will likely lose you that 20% for good and your business will suffer.

    Seriously: in general, how many people use a feature is only a small part of the picture.

  • by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:11PM (#45978567) Homepage

    When you have an already loaded map / search, and you enter a new search, it already does a "search nearby".

    IE, if I go into Google maps and search for "Times Square, New York, NY", it shows me Times Square. If I then type in "Pizza", it will find all the pizza places AROUND TIMES SQUARE, IE the ones inside whatever window I have open. This is the way Google Maps has always behaved, it is nice an intuitive, and does not need clicking weird extra buttons. It just plain does what you expect it to do without asking.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:46PM (#45978837)

    It's so damn useful though. You locate yourself on a map from an intersection (or geolocation if you don't care about your privacy at all) and search nearby places.

    Example: I'm at a tire store and it will take 45 minutes before my car is ready. I plug the address of the tire store into Google and search for nearby restaurants within a 10 minute walk. It tells me that up the street, which I did not come by from, has a Denny's.

    That's fucking important. I need to know where those Denny's are to avoid them more than Battlestar Gallatica tried to avoid the Cylons, or a salad avoided Jabba the Hutt. I think most sane and rational people have used Google this way right?

    As far the maybe is concerned, perhaps, it's that Google really did find a lot of people doing that and figured it was an additional commodity to sell. A local business would pay quite a bit actually to steer real time requests for businesses towards them. I know some businesses well enough to say they would test it out and shift funds away from other marketing budgets.

    A half a dozen times in the last 3 years I've found myself in meetings with the local telephone book companies pitching SEO and their own web based directories as the primary product instead of their dead tree publishing. Those companies see the writing on the wall and are not trying to sue or regulate the Internet into compliance with their old business model, unlike some creeps we know. They would jump on that in a second to offer local foot traffic to a retail brick and mortar store as an added service they provide.

    Google could make money doing that. Google doesn't service the Internet user except with a glove going you-know-where, they service their real customers and those are the advertising industry and Big Data consumers.

    Got a funny feeling that it will play out just like that. A new NearMe(tm) feature with sponsored search results on a revamped directory page.

    Google could knock off Eat24.com and Groupon in an afternoon with their search tech, map tech, and payment processing tech.

    There's money in it. A lot of it.

  • Re:Just a guess (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lucm (889690) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @05:09PM (#45979679)

    But those 20% are just 20%. You cater to the other 80%.

    You build for the majority of your users. If you're in the minority, you deal with it, find a competitor who offers that functionality, or you build your own.

    It is an unusual approach to remove a feature because "only 20%" of people are using it. Plus, they make billions, it's not as if they were on a tiny budget and had to make tough decisions in cutting features to save on future maintenance work.

    No, this is in line with other "improvements" on Gmail or Google search. They have lost touch with reality and make decisions according to internal politics alone, exactly like it happened in the US car industry. Now if you will excuse me I have to take my Fiat Cherokee to the carwash.

  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chalnoth (1334923) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @09:23PM (#45981637)

    Not really. The new maps is basically built around this feature. This seems to me to be a case of people not understanding that "search nearby" is effectively the default Google Maps behavior in the new version. It only moves the map if it doesn't find nearby results, or if the search query is a specific location elsewhere.

    Try it yourself. Using the new maps, zoom in on a location with a number of restaurants, and type "restaurants" in the search box.

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