24 Nov 2015

feedGoogle Operating System

Travel Guide Snippets in Knowledge Graph Cards

Google's Knowledge Graph cards include a lot of information from Wikipedia. Google usually shows a snippet from a Wikipedia article and links to the article. I was surprised to notice that cards for countries and big cities from all over the world no longer quote Wikipedia and now include detailed information from travel guides.

Here's an example for [France]: "France, in Western Europe, encompasses medieval and port cities, tranquil villages, mountains and Mediterranean beaches. Paris, its capital, is known worldwide for its couture fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The country is also renowned for its sophisticated cuisine and its wines. Lascaux's ancient cave drawings, Lyon's Roman theater and the immense Palace of Versailles are testaments to its long history."

The snippet from the corresponding Wikipedia article is less poetic: "France, officially the French Republic, is a sovereign state comprising territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The European part of France, called Metropolitan France, extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. France spans 640,679 square kilometres (247,368 sq mi) and has a total population of 67 million. It is a unitary semi-presidential republic with the capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre."

24 Nov 2015 10:00pm GMT

Show Zoom Slider in Google Maps

Are you missing the zoom controls from the old Google Maps interface for the desktop? Mouse over the "-" or "+" button at the bottom of the Google Maps page and click "show slider". You'll get the old zoom slider which allows you to quickly control the zoom level of the map.

If you want to go back to the default interface, mouse over the "-" or "+" button and click "hide slider". The nice thing is that Google remembers your preference.

24 Nov 2015 9:43pm GMT

Big Offline Google Maps

I don't know about you, but my Google Maps for Android has just enabled the new offline features. Even if you have the latest version of the app, you still need to wait until these features are enabled because they're gradually rolled out.

My first disappointment is that the new features are still limited. The biggest size for an offline area you can download is 120,000 square kilometers and there are many countries that are bigger than that. I downloaded London's map and checked the size of the map: 332 MB. It also expires in 29 days (maps need to be updated at least every 30 days).

It looks like Google's maps include too much information, they take up too much space and there's no way to download some simplified maps.

Let's try one of the smallest countries in Europe: Liechtenstein, which has an area of only 160 square kilometers. The offline map has 62 MB. New York? 409 MB. Los Angeles? 356 MB. Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Bangkok? Not available because of licensing issues.

Forget about downloading the map for an entire country. Google Maps still can't replace the Here app or paid navigation apps.

24 Nov 2015 9:10pm GMT