UPDATE, 12:17p PST: Folks, we've just wrapped up answering some of our last questions. We need to get back to making Maps even more awesome (no small task). Daniel & Vanessa will check in throughout the day, though, and pass along more MapsGL qs to the team, so keep 'em coming.

A big thank you to everyone for participating! And a special shout out to nitrousconsumed for organizing everything.

Hey there, Reddit!

Yesterday we announced a big update to Google Maps: the introduction of Google MapsGL, an enhanced and experimental version of Maps powered by WebGL. Needless to say, we’re really excited about it, and we thought we’d jump on Reddit today to hear your thoughts and answer questions. Read more about MapsGL on the Lat Long Blog, our blog for all things Maps-related: http://goo.gl/RwY77

We’ll be here from 10 a.m. to noon PST today to answer some of your questions. The Maps crew coming to you live:

Amanda Leicht, Product Manager for Google Maps; Jennifer Maurer, MapsGL Engineer; Carlos Hernandez, Senior Software Engineer; Josh Livni, Developer Relations; Kathryn Hurley, Fusion Tables Developer Programs Engineer; Mano Marks, Senior Developer Advocate; Carlos Cuesta, Maps API Marketing; Jade Wu, Google Maps Product Specialist; Daniel Mabasa, Maps community manager; Vanessa Schneider, Maps and Places community manager

Oh, and here are some faces to match the names (we work in different spots, so we had to take separate photos): Daniel, Amanda, Vanessa (http://imgur.com/X1ygi); Josh, Kathryn, Carlos (http://imgur.com/Q9adQ); Carlos H (http://imgur.com/eEq1u); Jade (http://imgur.com/pUzJc); Mano (http://imgur.com/8PSlw); Jennifer (http://imgur.com/0s5Y0) -- and likely more to join along the way!

Comments: 2173 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

alenahemkova1587 karma

Feature request:


AmandaMaps637 karma

We like this idea too! We’ve actually experimented a bit with this on Google.com search - try searching ‘east village nyc’ on Google.com. It doesn’t work for all queries, but we’re always working on improvements.

snobum94 karma

I don't understand why when you do this as a regular google search, it shows the road or town highlighted in google maps. If you click on that map, though, it no longer shows up this way.

thumbsdown51 karma

Yeah, same for when you search for a town in Google. It will show the town boundary in the search results image but not after you click and go to Maps.

vanessagene167 karma

Wow, this is a very popular feature request! Thanks for this feedback. We'll look in to how we might be able to make it happen on Maps.

athennna816 karma

No questions, but thanks. I'd be lost without you.

vanessagene765 karma

And we'd be lost without you. ;)

marysville595 karma

Are you hitting on me?

readyfuels398 karma

I think they were hitting on athennna, actually. But I, too, wish that the Google Maps folks would hit on me.

vanessagene436 karma

You guys are making us all laugh out loud over here!

langcastle388 karma

I am red/green colorblind so reading the traffic conditions is a challenge for me. Would you guys be awesome enough to put out a "Colorblind" version of the traffic displays? 10% of the male population would most appreciate it! =)

  • Edit - I've been informed it's 8% to 10% of males. Nonetheless, it'd be very helpful =)

vanessagene294 karma

Thanks for this feedback -- we've been hearing it from other users too. We'll keep it in mind as we keep developing Maps.

twistedfork382 karma

How many times to I have to fight with googlemaps about the Oklahoma State Department of Health Central Office and the Division of Vital Records being THE SAME BUILDING. Currently if you google "oklahoma state department of health" it sends you to a location that is incorrect by almost 2 miles.

I've tried correcting it but have not had good results. YOU MAKE PEOPLE GET REALLY MAD AT ME BECAUSE THEY CAN'T FIND US! There isn't even a health department building at 1000 N City St

ManoMarks255 karma

Have you tried using Google Map Maker to make an edit? http://www.google.com/mapmaker

FoxtrotBeta648 karma

Any possibility for support for Canadians soon? I've seen some things in Ontario that need changing or updating.

Thanks, nonetheless, for this nifty tool!

ManoMarks49 karma

We're working on expanding it globally. In the meantime, you can report a problem on maps.

clipmann268 karma

What is the nuttiest/craziest/awesomest image that you came across during your work?

danx64208 karma

  1. How often is a certain area updated from satellite? (if you have knowledge as to the satellite aspects as well), because some areas are update frequently while others have images from almost a decade ago.

  2. What are you criteria for a road that qualifies to be mapped and photographed for street view? I've seen some pretty obscure dirt roads on Google Maps.

  3. do you have any next-level technology on your Google maps streetview vehicles for creating the 3d views, is it possible to use these to generate a 3d map, along with Google terrain etc?

4.When will we have Google Earthview, with photos from eye level at every point on the globe?

dmabasa165 karma

Hey danx64, we try to update our imagery as often as possible, but we don't have information on when these images will be updated. You can read more about that here: http://goo.gl/K0HUn

You can also subscribe to updates via "Follow Your World" here: http://goo.gl/IiLfC -- You'll be notified when the area you're interested in gets imagery updates

chernand107 karma

StreetView vehicles have 3d capturing capabilities, for a more detailed explanation of the technology see:


The StreetView client uses the 3d information for navigation and rendering purposes.

steveforbesnash181 karma

are the direction/lengths of building shadows based on current time of day and location of the sun? it looks like it when zoomed into washington square park: http://g.co/maps/qyyp2

vanessagene418 karma

Yes, the building shadows in MapsGL are astronomically accurate based on time of day and current location of the sun (so will vary depending on the location on the Earth). We did add a scaling factor to the length - otherwise they are really long!

rofltosh158 karma

Does this ever happen? http://imgur.com/ibQIl

MapsAPIMarketingGuy155 karma

It only got worse once the markers taught themselves to bounce...


xenon879 karma

This is strangely satisfying if you add loads of them, make them bounce and listen to House Of pain - Jump Around.

MapsAPIMarketingGuy8 karma

Since no one has made a website for this, I think you should make a mashup that combines all those things. www.xenon87sMapsDanceOff.com.

You're welcome to borrow the code sample :)

[deleted]147 karma

I'm in NYC, so my question focuses more on directions than the actual maps themselves. If this applies to you guys, then my question is: when selecting public transportation why is Google Maps still so inflexible? Specifically in the following situations:

  • I know a train line isn't running and I'm searching for the best alternative route, however when I look at the options provided there is no way for me to say "How do I do this without the L train?"

  • I dislike having to take a lot of transfers and I dislike using buses at high traffic times, because I know there will be delays and we could be stuck in traffic. A slider for how much I'd be willing to walk in-between trains would be amazing, and similarly, amazing if I could say "I don't want to take busses." Heck, even a checkbox saying "I want to minimize the number of transfers I have to do" would be great when I'm not in a hurry and I'd rather sit on the train for an extra 20 minutes reading my book than have to trek up and down half a dozen staircases to make 3 transfers.

Are these planned features? Or anything like them?

Otherwise you guys have an incredible product that I use at least two or three times every week. It's invaluable for such a large city with so many places that, even after being here for almost two years, I still have yet to explore in any detail that wouldn't involve me constantly checking maps and train lines. Thanks!

AmandaMaps74 karma

If you click the tiny 'show options' link you can preference certain modes of transit over others (like trains over buses) , and preference walkings vs transfers. Super useful (especially in NYC!)

On Driving directions you can also avoid tolls / highways, too!

loudmax136 karma

Will there be integration with the OpenStreetMap project?

jlivni195 karma

The short answer is that the licensing of the OpenStreetMap data is incompatible with the licensing of the data we use.

However we're definitely supporters of the project. We’ve contributed money directly to OSM and to the Humanitarian Open Street Map project, and every summer we've sponsored Google Summer of Code interns to work on it (for example just next week some OpenStreetMap participants will be on our campus as part of our sponsorship of the project for Google Summer of Code 2011).

mackstann114 karma

Your Places API is extremely restrictive and prevents me from building a database of local places to make an awesome website with. Foursquare's Venues API is much more open, and allows me to store/cache their data to implement my project.

Do you recognize that the restrictions on your Places API dramatically limit its usefulness, and do you have any plans to change this?

jlivni96 karma

We do allow caching for performance purposes, and you can and should cache our references, which you can use to get the latest info from the API.

We've also placed some restrictions initially on the API as we've launched it to figure out how people are using it. If you can provide additional details on your use needs for the project that would be great.

mackstann35 karma

I'm making an app which basically showcases what you can get to on a specific transit line. So you pick a bus line, and it loads the coordinates of every stop on that line, and finds stuff near every one of those stops. I can't imagine a way to do this quickly without storing all of the places in my own database. If there are 80 stops on a route, it'd be ridiculous to query Google 80 times just for one person to view a page. Also, having it all in a database allows me to do the proximity searches ahead of time so that I can just quickly pull the results out of an index when the user requests it.

jlivni64 karma

One goal of the caching terms and restrictions is to allow you to cache a limited set of place data locally so that you can ensure your application is responsive, but also to ensure nobody bulk downloads a huge amount of place data, or uses the data outside of a Maps API application.

Although I don’t have all the details of your app, your use case for caching sounds quite reasonable for our API. However this question was asked during our Google I/O Fireside Chat earlier this year, and here's a link to that video which has some details that will hopefully clarify this for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo8g4x2OkPs#t=29m30s.

boshajones100 karma

How can I find out when the Google Street View car is coming down my road xD

dmabasa152 karma

We don't have specifics on Street View driving schedules, but we do have a site that shows you which cities are being currently photographed. http://goo.gl/ZFzja

zoidbort288 karma

Do you realize you have a car driving in the ocean just north of Antarctica?!?


AmandaMaps323 karma

Actually, if you zoom in a little more, I think there’s a small island there! We actually have some great imagery in Antarctica: http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&t=h&q=Antarctica&layer=c&cbll=-62.59609,-59.901651&panoid=ZzuMubmHCfCGGo3ePSlpCQ&cbp=12,233.34,,1,0.48&hq=&hnear=Antarctica&ll=-62.59609,-59.901651&spn=0.0008,0.00243&z=19

Some great penguin pictures :-D

redditorclown55 karma

I've found that the quality of the the street view photos in many US cities, even in bigger ones, is lower than in smaller European towns. Is this due to regulations or just the equipment that is used?

AmandaMaps95 karma

We’re continuously working to improve the technology we use for Streetview, so it’s a reflection of the equipment in use at the time the imagery was taken. This blog post: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2011/06/street-view-our-biggest-update-yet.html has links to some of our newest high-resolution imagery!

yellowbkpk55 karma

Hi guys, a friend from OpenStreetMap here. I really dig the way you used WebGL... are there any plans to disclose your API or data transmission format so cool mashups can be made on top of the WebGL stuff?

I remember back in the good 'ol days before the Google Maps API was released and people were hacking at the JavaScript... it would be wonderful to have similar support for this new MapsGL interface.

Jennifer_M37 karma

Thanks, we’ve had a lot of fun building this! We are under some restrictions as to what we can transmit, but we’re definitely excited about the technology and examining what we can transmit in this way.

~Jennifer Maurer, Software Engineer

Odinistic50 karma

Seems like some bugs have crept in, with triangles showing up randomly. example here http://maps.google.com/?ll=3.771055,8.726431&spn=0.150564,0.264187&t=v&z=13&vpsrc=6

edit: Also this coastline seems rather weird, compare satelite and map views.



Is there any way to report this?

Jennifer_M109 karma

You can actually fix things like this yourself without waiting on us! In the lower right hand corner, click on “Edit in Google Map Maker”. ~Jennifer Maurer, Software Engineer

jordan2237 karma

What's your perfect Sunday?

All of you.

vanessagene58 karma

Hanging out with my roomie's pug, Nemo. He's really cute.

javes134 karma

You guys are doing a great job! Amazing what has been achieved in mapping in the last six years.

Where do you see Google Maps in the next 6 years?

AmandaMaps35 karma

Great question! Six years ago an interactive map you could pan and drag was cutting edge technology, so you’re right, we’ve made some amazing progress. WebGL is opening an whole new world (no pun intended!) of possibilities for what can be done in the browser, and we’re excited about making an immersive & interactive ‘3D Mirror’ of the world.

bmurph8317 karma

Do most of you have a Cartographic or GIS/Remote Sensing background or did you come in to Google Maps new mapping?

jlivni10 karma

Putting together what you see at http://maps.google.com is the work of a lot of different teams, and people on these teams have an awesomely wide variety of backgrounds. Overall the percentage of people working on Geo with a “classic GIS” background is probably not that large, but some of us (myself included) have spent many years working with proprietary and open source GIS software before joining Google.

alcarazr15 karma

In this webpage: http://maps.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=es&answer=1630790, it says that Safari (WebGL enabled) is also able to use the new MapsGL. I have not had success in getting MapsGL work with Safari 5.1.1 (WebGL is enabled, I can see for example Google Body). Am I missing anything? Thanks! Rodri

AmandaMaps21 karma

Right now, we currently only support browsers that have WebGL enabled by default so we should probably update that article :) However, we are looking to bring it to more browsers (like Safari) soon!

Rekilo15 karma

Thanks for telling me to kayak across the Atlantic Ocean.

AmandaMaps12 karma

Have you tried from Shanghai to Tokyo?