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This article was published on October 20, 2015

    MapQuest wants you to love it again

    MapQuest wants you to love it again
    Nate Swanner
    Story by

    Nate Swanner

    Former Reporter, TNW

    TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If you need to get in touch, Twitter is your best bet.

    MapQuest wants you back. In launching a redesigned web platform, MapQuest is trying to make maps personal, contextual and as smart as you want them to be.

    Or, as dumb as you want. It’s your call — and that’s the point.

    The new Web interface is sparking a brand refresh for MapQuest, Which the company says will make its way to mobile soon. The desktop version, however, is a solid offering.

    MapQuest tells us it has about 42 million users, which is the focal point of this refresh. Growth is always nice, but MapQuest doubled down on listening to existing customers the past few years to make its product better.

    A very basic, pleasurable topographical view is the boilerplate scene, which MapQuest leaves open to customization via layers. Those layers — comprised of attractions like hotels or gas stations — can be toggled on and off to provide a better understanding of your surroundings.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 3.34.53 PM

    Unlike some other services, MapQuest doesn’t try to build those layers itself. Instead, the company is partnering with other services we use, like Uber for rides to events or Yelp for reviews. Layers also show info like a restaurant’s menu, or hours of operation. You can even make reservations via Yelp, GrubHub or OpenTable.

    The company is also releasing a ‘Compare’ tool that allows users to contrast routes and pricing. You can view routes with multiple modes of transportation, and do a side-by-side comparison based on things like time and how much it’ll cost. Maybe a more direct route is worth a few extra bucks; maybe not.

    If you’d rather walk, Compare will tell you how many calories you’ll burn. It will even show you the weather so you can make the right decision. Drivers will enjoy the option for hailing roadside assistance in the new MapQuest.

    I asked where MapQuest thought it fit into the current landscape of mapping utilities, and the team bristled a bit. They’re not concerned about being the default mapping service for any platform.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 3.36.30 PM

    MapQuest would rather its users seek it out because they like it better, but that joy comes with customization. MapQuest feels layers will set it apart, while things like roadside assistance and strong partnerships with services like Yelp will keep users coming back.

    It’s core users are also why the main MapQuest view is significantly pared down. MapQuest says layers are the “hero” of the platform, and things like 3D and street views were something its user base didn’t care to have.

    MapQuest’s new look and upgraded features are available for the desktop and mobile Web. The company didn’t provide a specific timeline for its mobile refresh, but notes its Compare tool is live on mobile.

    ➤ MapQuest