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Google Is Getting Rid of Classic Maps for Good (Ugh.)

Google Is Getting Rid of Classic Maps for Good (Ugh.)

In 2014, Google changed their maps product and made it really crappy. So I wrote a post titled “Revert to Classic Google Maps,” which quickly became one of my most popular posts.

You might think that when all these people switched back to the old version, Google would realize they liked it and keep it around. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. If you had made the switch, when you go to Google Maps now, you’ll instead find something called the Lite version. You can tell if it’s rolled out to you by the lightning icon at the bottom right. When you click on it, it tells you you’re in Lite mode and gives you the option to switch back to the Full version.

According to Google, the Lite version is designed to work faster. While I appreciate speed, I’m not happy with some of the functions they’ve removed, including setting a Home location and measuring the distance between places.

See the full list of unavailable features in Google Maps Lite. >>

As I mentioned above, you can switch back to the full version of Maps by clicking the lightning icon. Unfortunately, that takes you back to the “new and improved” version of Maps, which may be new but is anything but improved. It’s slow, cluttered, unintuitive and is still missing a lot of important features including several views, the full map/street view split-screen, and the ability to add more than 10 destinations in a plotted route.

Note: I’ve received notes from some people about missing features but they’re only missing in the Lite version. (eg. Search Nearby Places) So make sure you’ve switched over to the full version before deciding the feature is completely missing.

If there’s one sure sign that Google knows that people aren’t happy with the new Maps, it’s the fact that they felt the need to put up a page explaining why you’re better off with the version you don’t want. They say you can send them feedback, but I think this entire debacle demonstrates clearly that they’re not really concerned about what their users want… Sigh.

Alternative Mapping Options

While none of these alternative sites are perfect replacements for Classic Maps, they’re what we’ve got for now. I haven’t checked most of these out personally, but I’m linking to them anyway in case you find them helpful for your purposes. If you know of other sites you’d like to add to the list, please post a comment below.

General Maps Based on Classic Maps

Note: Google has changed their API so that all maps now have the new-style controls. However, this doesn’t affect most of the underlying features.

Google MapMaker
This site is designed to let people make additions and corrections to Google Maps. However, it uses Classic Maps as its base map and provides some of its features including Directions (under the Edit menu), a variation of Street View/Maps split screen, and 2D satellite view.

Classy GMap
An excellent alternative to Classic Maps with some of its most popular features, this mapping solution has undergone some changes since first developed. Check out this post for the most recent update (01/18/16).

Google Maps Streetview Player of Brian Folts
A reader emailed me this link with some detailed instructions about how to use it. There’s not enough room for me to write them up here, so I’ve copied them into a comment on the original Google Maps post.

Instant Street View
Thanks to reader Sappy for sharing this find that has a lot of Classic Maps’ features (searchable, zoom, 2D satellite view). However, it doesn’t have a full split-screen Street View or directions.

Thanks to reader Szymon for sending along this link for a Polish site. The map has Street View (not split-screen) but doesn’t have search or Directions.

Thanks to reader Dave for sharing this German site.

Wareko Map
T4L reader Wareko is also developing a map based on Google Classic, available in Japanese and English!

Specialty Maps Based on Classic Maps

Thanks to reader James for sharing this website that he maintains to help people find tennis courts around the world.

Thanks to reader S.H. for sharing this Google-based map that includes solar radiation and temperature data.

Thanks to reader John for sharing a whole slew of URLs that incorporate Classic Maps.

Maps Based on Other Platforms

One of the original mapping applications.

Bing Maps
Microsoft’s mapping site.

Yahoo Maps Directions
While Yahoo! has shut down its main Maps site, this implementation is currently still working.

Open-source mapping software. A reader adds, “OSM is just the database: It’s up to someone to read the data and build actual maps, and possibly provide a router such as OSRM for directions.”

Thanks to reader Metal for sharing this site, which describes itself as “a multilingual open-content collaborative map, where anyone can create place tags and share their knowledge.” Has both map and satellite views, but does not include a street view or directions feature.

Cycling-Focused Maps

Thanks to reader Frederic for sending me these links. Descriptions in quotations are taken directly from the site.

Ride with GPS
“Ride with GPS makes it easy to drag and draw your own custom routes with lightning fast elevation profiles to help you anticipate (or avoid) those big climbs.”

Bike Route Toaster
“ is a course creation application primarily aimed at Garmin Edge/Forerunner owners although other users without a GPS may also find it useful for planning rides.”

Pretty straightforward-looking route planner built with OpenStreetMap.

Ride with GPS
From their About page: “Ride with GPS was founded by two guys that love writing cool software and riding their bikes: Zack Ham and Cullen King.”


You may also be interested in:

Google Maps Brings Back Split-Screen Street View

Classy GMap: An Update

New Controls on Old Google Maps

Measuring Distances in New Google Maps

Elizabeth Kricfalusi

View Comments

  • The way Google changed their mapping F.... Sucks, I was able to see my property in Qld Australia now for some reason the burnett river is now 126 meters below sea level, but the mountain range next to it is even lower now. Someone pleaser tell Google earth to come back while it wasn't brilliant it was a shit load better than this crap

  • I used google mapmaker for street view when google maps classic was taken off line because it was faster than street view on the new google maps since it was based on the classic version but then google killed mapmaker back in March. Street view is still slow on all the alternatives listed here because they're all based on the new version of google maps. I have tried everything to get street view to move quicker to no avail. I'm wondering if google even wants street view to be as quick as it used to be.

  • So sad. Tried to use the current "wonderful" google maps, a total piece of trash.
    Totally worthless and not worth anyone's time.

    They had a nice product, to bad to trash it.

    I will most probably NOT be using Google maps again, it has no value any more.
    It is about as useful as an outdated road map.

    To bad, they are getting rid of the features that made it a good product.

    Well guys have another beer at your board meeting because future decisions like this will make you like RCA and Microsoft and such, a footnote in history and not anything relevant for serious work.

  • Just seen discovered thread. I just posted a comment in the old and all but defunct thread "Bring Back Classic Google Maps Campaign"
    so I'm reposting the same commment here:

    « Hi Elizabeth!


    I just tried using Google Maps once again to try and trace my favourite cycle route I use when I want to get an hour’s pleasant, scenic yet hilly cycling exercise. This was previously my well-tried litmus test to confirm to me yet again how utterly and completely useless **New Google Maps** continued to be for my purposes. Imagine therefore my (pleasant) surprise when I discovered that in the intervening twelve months or so, this tool has actually become usable again.

    Yes, it actually worked!! And it seems to work almost as well (at least, as I say, for my purposes) as **Old Google Maps**. Which, for me, is very good news!

    Has anyone else any feedback on the latest iteration of the **New Google Maps” app??? »

    • Hi Keith.

      Thanks for sharing that info. I'm putting "write a Google Maps update post" on my to-do list to add these kinds of changes. Stay tuned!

      - Elizabeth

  • Thank you this is very helpful. I like classic view and my Google app won't give it any more since last upgrade. It also wants me to sign in now for features. It's very annoying. I appreciate all the links and suggestions here and in the comments.

  • Hello

    Thanks for that mine of information about the old classic Google Map.
    I really appreciate the efforts of the author of this page and all other people working to keep alive the old classic google map

    I was used to check time to time the link
    and was suprised non to find it anymore since couple of months.
    Even google forgeted it !
    What is the reason to change the link of the page?

    • Hi Stephan.

      That campaign ended a long time ago. While it didn't result in bringing back Classic Maps, Google has brought back a few of the old features including a zoom slider option and a variation of the split-screen Street View. So I like to think the campaign did make some difference. :)

      - Elizabeth

  • hi

    google map maker is going to shut down in march 2017 so there will be no classic maps or classic street view. :(

  • Thanks for the article. Google seems to manage maps from a "we know better than the user" standpoint, and it's super-annoying. Example: Why mandate which browsers are allowed access to full maps? If it's a little-used browser, an unsatisfactory experience will impact very few users; so they should be allowed to make up their own minds about whether the performance is acceptable or not.

    I've been using Vivaldi. Lite is all you get. But if I search in Chrome, then copy the URL over to Vivaldi, the full features work just fine. Why make it harder to use your product, Goog?

    • A follow-up to my previous reply. I just installed Vivaldi and I have the full version of Google Maps on it. Is it possible you don't have the most up-to-date version of the browser? - Elizabeth

    • Hi e.

      I definitely agree with you. That's interesting about copying the URL bringing back the full features. I'll have to write that up as a tip.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      - Elizabeth

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