Google Maps is a great tool and well deserves its top-ten placement among mobile apps. After all, it’s the quintessential on-the-go app, the one you need almost every day. Finding stores, finding parking, finding coffee, and directions on getting there, by car, bike, foot and public transportation. That’s all good, great even.
But considering the versatility of Maps, it’s surprising that it is so static. It needs to be alive, constantly updated, and always up-to-date.
Two ideas just from this holiday weekend:
Opening hours: Every business has them yet Maps ignores special days like holidays, or shopping holidays like Black Friday. Driving by a Target on Thanksgiving night (aka Gray Thursday) I passed a jam-packed Target parking lot. The opening hours on Maps are listed as a usual weekday: from 8AM to 10PM, yet the actual hours were from 6PM throughout the night. Another use case: last year on a road trip, we drove around West Hollywood looking for one open restaurant. All were listed as open, all but three were closed. Businesses can already manage their Google pages, give them this additional flexibility as well.
Temporary locations: Food trucks are a great addition to the local food scene but finding them can be a challenge. Right now, many of the trucks update their location via their Twitter account but that’s a rather awkward way to find them, and is completely unhelpful when the preferred search is “what’s near me now?” Give the trucks an app similar to the ridesharing ones so that they can “check in” at any location and add a layer of “food trucks” to the standard map view. This can also work for fairs and special events, such as the Renaissance Faire and Fleet Week (two Northern California examples) that come to specific locations for a limited time.
In general, though, updating maps should be as easy and fast for businesses as sending a Tweet and as easy for consumers to find them as an simple map search.