Google Maps: New Changes, New Errors

by Chris Silver Smith

Matt McGee’s news piece on SEL caught my eye this morning, reporting that Google Maps now sports a new look and feel. The change was apparently announced late yesterday on the Google LatLong blog (I have to agree with Matt’s aside, their blog redesign is not an improvement).

The change comes after a few weeks of observed changes to Google Place Search and rumors and speculation about “big changes coming to Google Maps” followed by increasing buzz around place editing bugs and map interface errors.

Could this be what all the hubbub was about?!? At first glance, most of the changes seem relatively superficial.

This likely does explain some of the errors I encountered yesterday when attempting to do some searches and driving directions requests – that was likely during their code propagation. However, it still seems to me that there could be other changes on the horizon for when Google Plus for businesses rolls out.

Unfortunately, I can immediately see errors in the code that was just rolled out. For instance, the tooltips which appear when moused-over contain encoding errors, rendering various special characters like ampersands and apostrophes into gobbledygook:

Google Maps tooltip title display error

Encoding error in Google Maps mouseover

This is pretty disappointing to see, because this is an extremely basic type of programming error which comes up all the time for internet programmers. One wonders how much testing was done before the new code was rolled-out.

I think that these tooltips may now be more prominently featuring the Descriptive Terms — the keywords displayed with business listings in Google Maps which I earlier pointed out as being frequently problematic due to them often highlighting negative words and phrases which could damage businesses.

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