Happy 10th birthday, Google Maps!
Today marks the 10th anniversary of Google Maps,
the revolutionary navigation product that changed the way we all think about getting from A to B.
Back in 2005, Google Maps was simply a way for users to get basic directions. Since, it’s aggressively evolved and the product now allows Googlers to pinpoint what coffee shops are down the road from their offices as easily as they can explore the pyramids of Egypt.
Amanda Leicht Moore joined the Google Maps team as an intern in 2007. Today, she’s the division’s lead product manager. To celebrate the 10th birthday of a product that helps so many lost users find their bearings, Fortune talked to Moore about what’s in store for Google Maps’ future.
Fortune: Remind us what the world of navigation looked like before Google Maps came out.
Amanda Leicht Moore: It’s kind of crazy, 10 years ago before Google Maps came out, people were really reliant on paper maps and guide books. Anytime you went to a new place, you had to stop at the gas station and buy [a map]. Now, everyone has a map of the world in their pocket and you are never truly lost. It fundamentally changes how people think about exploring their world and moving about.
Was Google Maps always focused on seriously disrupt the navigation space?
I have been able to see how Google Maps has evolved since its infancy. At Google, the goal has always been to make the world’s information universally acceptable and that is how Google Maps got its start. How can we make the information about the world and how to get around and the places in it accessible? That is really where we started. Since then, we have evolved. Now we have a lot of really great imagery that really can help you immerse yourself in different places in the world. Places you have never been before and want to go to.
What’s next for Google Maps?
We’re been thinking a lot about how we can make people’s day-to-day lives easier. There are a lot of things in your day-to-day life that are stressful. Is my train going to be on time? Which highway should I take to work? Where should I go to lunch? We think we can make these decisions easier for people and make you feel more comfortable about where you are going.
There are not lots of navigations apps out there. Why is Google uniquely positioned to give people this information?
Google does imagery really well. You can travel the world from the palm of your hand. That is a really exciting part of Google Maps. In the last year, we’ve also focused a lot on helping you explore the world around you. So, that means what places are nearby and where you should grab a bite to eat for dinner.
Given gender stereotypes around women being bad at directions, do you find that people are surprised that you are a woman?
To be honest, I really do have a terrible sense of direction, but I feel that is an asset. I need to use my product all the time. I rely on Google Maps to not be lost, so that is actually a huge benefit. (Laughs)
10 years from today, where do you think Google Maps will be?
It’s really interesting to see how maps have evolved–from just showing you a map and you having to parse through the map and get the information out of it to [a product] that really helps you understand the world. We are going to see more of that, where we can tell you how to go to a place and you don’t even have to look it up. In 10 years, I don’t even know if we’ll have smartphones so it’s kind of hard to imagine.
I hope 10 years from now we can definitively say that we completely solved the problem of ever getting lost.