April 29, 2015

Google Maps is officially broken

Google has now officially destroyed their once-useful Maps web application. For weeks they’ve been warning us that they were going to do this, but at least they gave you the option to use the Classic (i.e., working) Maps.

This week the Classic option has been removed. Your are now forced to use either the new Maps, which is impossibly slow on my older Core 2 Duo laptop, or the new Lite Maps, which is missing many of the features I once used. Some of the missing features in “Lite” include the ability to drag routes, the ability to split the screen between Street View and the map, and the little distance scale marker.

Apparently Google is assuming that you are running on brand-new hardware with Chrome. Maps used to work fine on older hardware and Firefox, but no longer.

This is a perennial problem with Google: they routinely eliminate or damage their web products, forcing users to find alternatives. They did this with Reader, a perfectly good RSS feed consolidator; they’ve tweaked Search so badly that I now use Startpage instead; and now they’ve done it again with Maps. I expect that Gmail (which I stopped using a while back) will be the next victim.

Dependency on proprietary, closed source software is always hazardous, and this is just another example of that principle.