Congratulations to Yahoo Maps for leaving beta. Congratulations to Yahoo for actually having a property that leaves beta… but I kid Google. Let’s talk about Yahoo.
If you have a broadband connection (and Flash 7 or better) you’ll be able to use the new broadband version of Yahoo Maps (the old version will still be available for folks on dialup.) There is an overview tour (Flash again) and you can of course read the announcement on the Yahoo Maps blog, but here’s a quick roundup of what I found new and different:
* A complete Flash-based experience, that actually seemed to load pretty quickly.
* A checkbox to toggle live traffic conditions off and on. (I’d like to see historical conditions here too — map out a multistate driving route and get an idea where the congestion is)
* A “picture in picture” map showing you an overview of the area at which you’re looking. It lives in the upper right corner of the map though you can get rid of it if you don’t need it. Handy when you’re zoomed in a lot and you’ve lost track of where you are. The location it shows changes as you drag the map around, and it appears to be permanently in “map” format (as opposed to satellite or hybrid.)
* A quick toggle to the old-style “dial up connection” map.
Yahoo has announced that the satellite and aerial imagery now covers the entire US and over 100 cities internationally. I have a test I do to check the age of the imagery — looking at a particular street where a building was torn down over a year ago — actually I think it’s closer to two years at this point. Anyway, Yahoo flunked, the old building is still there. So while Yahoo might have full satellite imagery beware of its age.
Despite that, there’s a lot to like here. I like the new picture-in-picture feature. I like the Flash-based interface — it actually makes other map services look a bit clunky! I like the traffic feature though I’d like to see more things added to it. And I like how quickly the whole thing runs. But watch out for that imagery!