On this day in 2005, Google Maps was launched to the US public for the first time. Since then, the amount of stuff you can do on the mobile and desktop applications has dramatically increased in 14 years.
It has changed the way we get from A to B, helps us decide where we are going and tells us how bad the traffic is en route. One of the biggest benefits to Google Maps is that as long as you have internet connection, you will never be lost ever again.
The days of looking at foldable maps or an atlas, printing directions off, and buying sat-navs are long gone.
Google launched their digital maps service one year after acquiring the Danish company Where 2 Technologies. Lars and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen went to the search engine with the idea of an interactive app that could be zoomed in on and scrolled around. Maps was ready in 2005, being launched in the US in February and the UK just two months later.
That same year they launched driving directions, traffic information and satellite imagery, which made Google Maps a completely unique service from anything on the market.
While it wasn’t the first digital map, it was certainly the most futuristic and popular.
The Ordnance Survey’s head of APIs, Gary Gale, told The Guardian:
Yahoo beat Google to web maps and MapQuest beat it to turn-by-turn directions, but people didn’t stand up and take notice until Google Maps came along,
It wasn’t the first out there, but the role of Google Maps in transforming digital maps, making them popular and bringing them from a tech niche into the public consciousness cannot be underplayed.
Street View was introduced for the first time in 2007. The feature provided 360 degree street-level views of various locations around the world.
Originally starting with just a few American cities, it now has expanded to locations around the world. From Paris, Johannesburg and everywhere in between, the possibilities are almost endless.
Yet for some reason the first place you always search for on Street View is your home… unbelievable. Why not check out some of Google’s favourite images from Street View.
The first phone that Google Maps appeared on was the very first iPhone in 2007. Since then, almost every Android smartphone has it pre-installed and it’s one of the most popular apps on the Apple store.
As well as trying to spy on your neighbours in Street View, it can now tell you nearby restaurants and leisure facilities, show opening times of places and lists events taking place around your current location.
It’s now easier than ever before to know where everything and everyone is thanks to the application which has changed the world. Thankfully because of it, I will never have to ask anyone for directions ever again.
Matt Weston is a lover of electric cars, artificial intelligence and space. From Cornwall, he’s a UCLan graduate that still dreams of being a Formula One driver in the very near future. Previously work includes reporting for regional newspapers and freelance video for the International Business Times.