Archives for Features and Improvements

Subscribe
  1. Autumn is a season for pumpkins, colorful leaves, and getting so seriously lost in a corn maze that one has to alert the authorities.

    Okay, the last one doesn’t occur with regularity, but it did happen to a couple and their infant child in Massachusetts this week. The couple was so helplessly lost in the Connors Farm corn maze in Danvers that they dialed 911 and had to be rescued. By a police K-9 unit.

    My first thought upon hearing this news was, “Wow — that’s quite the corn maze.” My second thought was, “If only that lost-in-a-corn-maze couple had a MapQuest app on their smartphone…”

    Which is a good point in the story for me to introduce myself. My name is Lance Gould, and I’m the new editorial director of MapQuest. MapQuest is one of the most recognized and trusted brands on the web, and now we’re going to be bringing our readers editorial that can entertain and inform them while still allowing them to get the excellent navigational experiences that they’ve come to expect from MapQuest.

    Our first foray into original content is a fall-foliage package called LeafQuest. In this effort, we’ve selected 150 of the most colorful leaf-peeping spots in the whole country. That’s three per state. (Well, 49 states — sorry, tropical Hawaii! — but with Washington, D.C. as a reliable stand in. It’s complicated.)

    Each state gets an article providing information on the three fall-foliage spots therein, including links to the official websites of those places; a navigable map demarcating the three leaf-rich spots with pinpoints; and a video showcasing glorious fall-foliage in that state.

    Also in the package are three feature essays on autumn. by such esteemed writers as Joyce Millman, a two-time Pulitzer nominee; James Parker, the entertainment columnist for The Atlantic; and Chuck Pfarrer, an ex-Navy SEAL and best-selling memoirist, who has a new book out now on the inside mission to kill Osama bin-Laden. That’s right — we have a fall-foliage story written by a rough-and-ready Navy Seal — that’s just how we roll.

    Stay tuned for other great content from MapQuest. Next up is FrightQuest, our Halloween package. And yes, Hawaii, for that one, we’ve got you covered.

    –Lance Gould

  2. Good news for those of you who have websites through GoDaddy.com: the company recently added a MapQuest feature to its sitebuilders, InstantPage™ and WebSite Tonight® that makes it easy to add MapQuest maps and directions to your Go Daddy site.

    Great for individuals or small businesses that don’t have the resources or technical skills to build a website, InstantPage makes it easy to launch an eye-catching website in less than five minutes. The addition of MapQuest helps Go Daddy website owners drive more traffic to their brick-and-mortar storefronts.

    There’s no coding or HTML knowledge required to use the MapQuest feature on a Go Daddy website. From the Go Daddy site builder tool, simply choose the widget, type in your address and an actual map – not just a link – instantly displays. Visitors who want a larger map or directions to your store just click from the widget to a pre-populated MapQuest result form. What’s really cool is businesses with multiple locations can choose to display a separate map for each location or build one map that includes them all.

    GoDaddy.com, which currently manages over 50 million domain names, gives InstantPage* away free with every new domain or you can choose to upgrade to WebSite Tonight for a small monthly fee. Both options allow you to easily integrate MapQuest maps.

    MapQuest Map in Go Daddy Website

    *XXX domain names do not include free InstantPage.

  3. To help you find places easier, we’ve enhanced Search on our Map Toolbar with new categories and a more intuitive user-interface with six new category icons and relevant business categories in the drop-down menu that include:

    1. Lodging: Hotels & Motels and Campgrounds
    2. Restaurants & Bars: Coffee and Fast Food
    3. Travel Services: Airports, Gas Stations, Parking
    4. Shopping: Retail Apparel, Grocery Stores, Florists
    5. Activities: Tourist Attractions, Museums, Casinos, Parks
    6. Local Services: Schools, Pharmacies, Post Offices

    We improved our Map Toolbar so it’s quicker to use and has your primary search needs in mind. We removed the rotating carousel of categories, so you can expect to find each icon, such as the Restaurant “fork-and-knife” in the same position each time. We also recognize that you have a wide array of restaurants choices, so we expanded the ability to search for restaurants by a certain restaurant type or cuisine to help you narrow your appetite needs.

    Search for restaurants and bars on MapQuest Map Toolbar

    Here’s another helpful tip for your next road trip: To find the cheapest gas along your route and a rest area about halfway along through the trip, just enter your starting and ending destinations, click on the Gas Stations and Rest Area icons under Travel Services, and we’ll suggest where to stop along the way.

    MapQuest directions with gas stations and rest areas along the route

    We’d love to hear your feedback and find out how this feature helps your trip planning needs!

    P.S. If you’re a business owner and want to ensure that your business is included in the search results for a specific category, check out our Local Business Center blog post on SEO Tips and the “Categories” feature!

  4. 4th of July events can be a pain to plan, but don’t sweat it this year – MapQuest is here to help! By clicking the fireworks icon on the Map Toolbar on MapQuest.com, you can easily view all of your local events including 4th of July parades, festivals, amazing light shows and more. We have gone through the trouble of bringing the events to you, just click and get directed towards exciting Independence Day fun.

    July Events on MapQuest

    Eventful supplied us with over 350 star spangled events for you to choose from; whether you want to head to a local event or plan a road trip, there is something for everyone. Once you have chosen your destination, you can get directions and send them directly to your phone, GPS or car using the ‘Send To’ option.

    The 4th of July is a time to spend with family and friends so don’t miss anything by getting lost or stuck in traffic. You can view traffic conditions using the ‘Live Traffic’ option and find the quickest route so you can be front row for the parade and not miss the fireworks display!

    We would love to here how you spend your holiday so don’t forget to share with us on Facebook and Twitter.  Hope you have an explosive 4th of July!

  5. Do you know it would take 17,000 trees to make the paper for one month’s worth of printed MapQuest driving directions?* That’s a lot of paper and ink!

    Traveling TipsNext time you are planning a trip – travel green. Instead of printing the directions, just send it to your phone. On the printer-friendly page, you’ll see the new Send to Mobile option. Just enter your mobile number, then click ‘Send to Mobile’ and a text message with your maps and directions will be sent to your phone.  The link in the text message takes you to MapQuest.com on your mobile. A mobile map gives you quick access to helpful features like:

    • Pan, drag, and zoom the map to see more than what the printout would have given you
    • See traffic flows & incidents
    • Access location details & phone numbers
    • View aerial maps
    • Search nearby – a parking lot or nearest gas station?
    • In the event you get lost: find yourself on the map (iPhone & Android devices)

    If you haven’t already, download our iPhone or Android app and get an even better experience through FREE GPS turn-by-turn Navigation.

    [* One tree equals 8,000 sheets of paper according to thinkrecycle.com.]

  6. Mother's Day 2011 Brunch, Flowers and Other IdeasIn theory, you should always listen to your mother. But no matter what she says (‘I don’t need anything! It’s just a silly Hallmark® holiday!’), she’s expecting you to pull out all the stops on Mother’s Day.

    Luckily, the editors at City’s Best have done all the legwork for you this year. Simply click on the “Mom’s Day” icon in our Map Toolbar on MapQuest.com for your city location to see a list of these recommendations.

    They’ve combed 25 cities across the country picking out the best brunch spots, special activities and impressive florists to ensure Mom has a lovely day (and that you don’t endure guilt or three weeks of passive aggressive behavior).

    Not that she’d ever do that.

    Ashley McAdams is a Senior Editor of Local at Huffington Post Media Group.

  7. Are you Irish, Irish at heart or just looking to enjoy some green beer this St. Patrick’s day? MapQuest is here to help you find Irish pubs and restaurants in your area. Now through March 18, type in your location on MapQuest.com and click the map toolbar icon of a four-leaf clover to locate the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

    Trying to attend (or avoid) one of the nation’s top St. Paddy’s Day parades? Here are some My Maps that outline events in New York, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Dublin, Ohio, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

  8. MapQuest gets a lot of passionate feedback from our 44+ million users.  Among the most frequent enhancement requests are walking and transit directions on MapQuest.com.  With increasingly walkable cities and the growing popularity of transit as a convenient and eco-friendly travel option, we are happy to announce the launch of…both!

    Walking Directions are now available just about everywhere driving directions are on MapQuest.com (we’ve had them for a while on our MQ4Mobile and Mobile Web apps).  Walking directions will guide you down the most efficient paths and through parks, often avoiding vehicle traffic. To use the feature, just click Get Directions, select the “walking man” icon above the Start field, and enter your locations.  It’s as simple as that!

    MapQuest Transit Directions Example

    Rail Transit Directions are now available in six major metro areas (NYC, Chicago, D.C., San Fran, Boston and Philly) all of which have large subway, elevated and/or commuter rail networks. Rail transit is integrated with walking directions, allowing travelers in these cities to route between towns, addresses, points of interest, or specific transit stations.

    To use the transit feature, just click on the train icon (right next to the walking icon), enter your locations, and select the time and date of your trip. Your route map will show walking and transit segments in different colors, with icons indicating the mode of travel, station locations, and transfers. Timing information will be included in your step-by-step directions in the left column. For more details, please see our Help site.

    While extremely helpful for travel planning, MapQuest Transit version 1.0 is just a starting point. We’ll be working to add more cities, transit system maps and station details, mobile support, bus routing, and additional enhancements.

    Please try out the new features, and stay tuned for more!

  9. Today, we added an additional eight new country-specific Open.MapQuest.* sites that are built on OpenStreetMap data – branching out into select South American countries along with Canada and Finland!  Here’s the complete list:

    Puerto Rico: open.mapquest.com.pr Portugal: open.mapquest.com.pt Brazil: open.mapquest.com.br
    Venezuela: open.mapquest.com.ve Chile: open.mapquest.cl Haiti: open.mapquest.ht
    Finland: open.mapquest.fi Canada: open.mapquest.ca

    We’ve also added some great new functionality for developers: Open Guidance Service, Open JavaScript SDK, Open Aerial tiles! Read this informative Developer’s Blog post containing all the details and sample code snippets. Alternate routes is another fantastic functionality that we announced earlier this week – read more here. And – not to be outdone – we’ve now got world-wide routing using OSM data! So, you can even now get a route from Dublin to Shanghai and be sure to view the alternate routes!

    World wide driving directions with alternate routes: Dublin to Shanghai

    We have one more cool feature that we’ve added specifically for our OSM mappers: a list of places that you’ve clicked on to edit in Potlatch 2 called: My Map Edits.  This functionality gives the individual contributor the ability to quickly and easily recall the maps that they contributed to and see how the map data is enriched by those contributions and others in the area.

    My Map Edits

    And finally, on our main U.S. site, open.mapquest.com we are joining in the Super Bowl fun with the addition of the Play-by-Play directions (read more here).  The OpenStreetMap community has also been working hard to add the new expanded highway, exit ramps, and other road changes in the area around the Cowboys Stadium. If you happen to live in the area, feel free to join in the fun to help improve and update the map.

  10. The routing team at MapQuest has always taken pride in providing driving routes which help you get you to your destination quickly and efficiently. Our routing algorithm has been tuned over many years based on user feedback, and incorporates a wide range of factors from speed limits to road class to the impact of left turns. We’ve added flexibility in recent years by expanding customization options like avoiding tolls, highways, and other road types – and by making routes interactive so you can simply drag onto roads you prefer to use.

    As we all know from our own travels in familiar areas however, there is often more than one reasonable way to get between points A and B!

    With that in mind, we are pleased to announce Alternate Routes on MapQuest.com.

    When you generate driving directions, you will now often see one or two additional options in addition to the “main” route – which is produced using the same time-tested MapQuest technology you’ve come to know and trust. Alternate routes are likely to be just a shade longer in terms of timing or distance – and we won’t show any at all if no good options exist.

    You don’t need to do anything to generate alternates – simply look for them under the Suggested Routes heading in the left column.  Each option is given a unique descriptive name based on the main roads it uses. When you move your mouse over the alternate, it will turn light green and you’ll see the alternate route displayed in pink on the map (see image). To select an alternate, just click on the highlighted area and we’ll automatically update your driving directions (for more details, please visit our Help Site).

    MapQuest Alternate Routes

    We hope you like the additional options, and we’d like your feedback.  If you know of alternates that you think are better than what we’ve shown, let us know by filling out our feedback form (please be specific!).  We’ll use your input to make MapQuest’s alternate routes even smarter.