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Comparison of the most popular map websites

Finding maps online makes a lot of sense. You will have the latest information updated in real time for a new street in your neighborhood or up-to-date traffic reports to help you plan your trip. Step-by-step operating instructions make any trip a breeze. However, which online mapping site reigns supreme: Google, Yahoo, or MapQuest?

Let’s look at simple directions first. That’s why most of us look for driving directions online after all, right? If you’re concerned about road hazards, construction zones, and heavy traffic, Yahoo Maps is good for that feature. MapQuest allows you to check boxes to avoid highways and tolls, choose the shortest distance, or take the route with the least time. The simple and user-friendly nature of this site is also a nice bonus for someone who wants your addresses right away.

They have also recently added the drag and drop feature that Yahoo has had, which helps you navigate around traffic obstructions. If you are walking or jogging, Ask is the only place that allows you to chart the course of your pedestrians. Google Maps can zoom to get close topographic views of any continent. In short, Yahoo is the best site when traffic or construction sites are a concern, while MapQuest provides quick directions from point A to point B.

So what about tourism maps? MapQuest does not currently offer satellite imagery, although if you have the directions, you can plot multiple points on your sightseeing tour to discover an efficient route. Google can show you very close views of all over the world, from Nairobi and Lima to Baghdad and Tokyo.

Yahoo also takes you straight to the heart of the world’s most remote continents using various sources for its images, although Google and Ask have more display pixels. In conclusion, Google Maps probably has the most comprehensive database of real-world images and the fastest response time for your tourism needs. In fact, there are entire websites dedicated to “sightseeing without leaving your living room through Google satellite maps.”

Another site not detailed here, but worth checking out, is the newer Microsoft Windows Live Local. You can put a pin in favorite locations, record notes, and upload images to your sites to save or share with friends, which is kind of like Google’s mapping feature. You can also view traffic reports and get a clearer route, explore collections of tourist points of interest, and tour cities in 3-D.

This new player seems to perceptibly take the best of the other sites and make it better. As you browse, you will notice that all sites have similar interfaces (except for that rogue, MapQuest) but the subtle differences are what make people so adamant about their favorite map engines.

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