Google has announced that it is to close its Google Map Maker, the online tool that allows anyone from anywhere to add or edit information in Google Maps.
Map Maker will be retired in March 2017. But it is not the end of the road for anyone who wants to help Google cartograph the world. The map editing features will be integrated in future versions of Google Maps, said Google in a blogpost.
“Today, we want to let you know that Google Map Maker features will officially graduate and be integrated directly into Google Maps in March 2017 when we’ll retire the standalone Map Maker product.”
Map Maker came to prominence in 2008, when Google effectively crowd-sourced its worldwide user base to contribute data to its then fledgling Google Maps. The idea was that locals would be able to annotate and edit information better than anyone else initially especially from rural areas that the Google toolset had not able to obtain. It also helped to improve the features of the public versions of Google Maps including the ability to describe in detail the existing locations.
Going forward, however, edits made on Google Maps, starting on the date of the new announcement, (November 8th) will no longer be available for moderation on Map Maker. The Google Map Maker team say that this will allow them to streamline their efforts, speeding up the time for an edit to get published.
“This update will enable us to focus on providing the best editing and moderation experience within Google Maps on both desktop and on mobile. We’ll continue to roll out new features to make sure you’re able to do most of the things you’ve grown accustomed to doing in Map Maker – like edit roads – leading up to March 2017 and after.”
Google Map Maker features will officially graduate and be integrated directly into Google Maps in March 2017. The shutdown and integration into Local Guides does of course make sense. The shift should also cut down on the spamming and vandalism problems, thanks to the newer systems for editing and approvals.
In 2015, Google were forced to apologise to Apple after an image of the Android android was found urinating over the Apple logo, and consequently, any updates subsequent to that event had to moderated an approved before they were added to Google Maps.
“We’ve greatly appreciated your contributions to Google Maps over the years” ends the announcement, “and hope you will continue to update the world around you.”