It’s kind of remarkable how the folks at Google always manage to lift any kind of application they have a go at to another level isn’t it? Right now for instance they extended their wicked Google maps applications to function as a route planner. Now there are a bunch of route planners out there already, but if you’ve tried Google maps out before you know already that their AJAX driven interface responds way faster than what most of the other services where offering.
Some where clever about this from the beginning, like map24 which uses a Java applet for quick and seamless map and route rendering, beating all of those that are still using the so 80’s static images with their slow page refreshes, yuck.
Besides the fast UI of Google maps the route calculations are blindingly fast as well, and the best part of the whole thing is that you can drag and drop your waypoints along the map, and your route gets instantly recalculated. Sweet!
Now that is kick-ass. It truly is the fasted right now AFAIK, and one thing I particularly like is that they are using the maps from the Belgian-Dutch company Tele Atlas. This insures the maps for Belgium will be on the spot, which was always a bit of a problem when Google launched their maps service in the beginning.
One thing they still need to sort out is the recognition of Belgian streets I’ve noticed. It does fine with city to city, but if you specify a specific street, it doesn’t seem to be finding it, although they are all on the map if you zoom in.
That gives the other map services a bit of time to upgrade their own sites I guess, which can only be good for us. The users.