Thursday, August 24, 2006

Review of Online Mapping Sites: Ask.com


Five points to he or she who sees the easter egg first

It's back. The long delayed review of online mapping sites continues. Ansiguy has been kind enough to review Ask.com's entry into the mapping world. Catholicgauze decided he could not be an impartial reviewer because of the whole "declaring holy war upon them for trying to astroturf me" thing. The review was originally posted here but I have copied it for my readers' convenience (but be sure to read TechPoint blog!)

Some of the popular mapping websites are Mapquest, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, Mappoint, Ask, etc. While most of them source from Navteq or TeleAtlas; the way they are presented makes a huge difference in the user experience. Companies try to stay ahead of competition by doing something different. One common thing is to provide a feature that competitor’s don’t offer. But sometimes it leads to some interesting features such as ask.com’s map providing an option for walking directions.

For walking in downtown New York or Chicago or big similar big cities this feature would be very useful and Ask.com is the only service that provides it.

An interesting direction would be 223 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603 to 339 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60606. Compare between Driving directions and walking directions. Due to one way routes, driving directions are not the best to take if you plan on walking. Great!

I searched Ask’s map direction from Chicago, IL to Detroit, MI and just for the heck of it I clicked on walking directions and I found the time estimate as 125 hr. 20 min.

Now I would be curious to know who would walk so many hours?

The reason for my curiosity is Ask.com probably is optimizing routes for driving and walking, because the Chicago – Detroit driving directions shows a shorter route while walking directions shows a longer route may be due to the fact that you cannot walk on all the routes that you can drive.

Pretty much walking directions is the only feature that would attract you to Ask.com’s mapping site. There are no other standard features such as reverse directions which is a commonly used feature and available in other mapping sites.

Mapquest still stands as my top pick. Mapquest’s sole business is maps and they do a good job at that. Mapquest is the only service that allows you to perform advanced options such as Shortest Time, Shortest Distance, Avoid Highways , Avoid Tolls and Avoid Seasonally-Closed Roads. Mapquest may not be up to mark with the top notch technology such as ajax or flex, but they sure do provide good and accurate directions with some really good advanced options.

Related posts:
Yahoo maps beta released - feature rich
Google Maps Vs Mapquest - what’s your pick?

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