Google may roll out overhauled Maps at Google I/O

Updated mapping app appears part of Google effort to attract more users of mobile devices

Google Maps is reportedly getting an overhaul that may be shown off at the annual Google I/O conference next week.

According to the Google Operating System blog, an independent site that tracks the Internet firm, the launching of a new interface for Google Maps is imminent.

The blog post includes images of a Welcome to the new Google Maps box that holds a link that brings users on a tour of the overhauled product.

According to images in the blog post, the updated mapping app tosses out the traditional sidebar of options, like photos, Zagat reviews and directions, in favor of floating boxes that hover over a full-screen map.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, said the updated app could help Google's mobile efforts.

"It looks like the net effect is a less cluttered map, which would be handy for mobile devices," said Olds.

"Google needs to ensure that Google Maps is the premiere navigation service for mobile users. More and more people are relying on their phones as their primary navigation device. Google wants those eyeballs firmly on Google Maps, along with the associated advertising, rather than using another service," he added.

Users should be happy with the new look, Olds said. "People use maps because they don't know where they're going so making the view larger and less cluttered is definitely helpful."

Google declined to comment on the report of a Maps overhaul.

The reports this week brought speculation that the updated Goole Maps will be revealed at the I/O Conference in San Francisco.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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