Automatic Location on Google Maps

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Automatic Location on Google Maps Daniel (Google Community Manager) 7/27/12 10:00 AM
Cross posted on the Google Lat Long blog:

A more accurate starting point in Google Maps

Maps users have told us that when they embark on a journey, they often want to start from their current location. That’s why today we’re making Google Maps more useful by automatically zooming into your city as the starting point for your search. Now you can dive right in and discover the local businesses, restaurants and attractions near you, without having to manually enter your location. Much easier and faster.

We show the details of your starting point in the left panel. And if for some reason your starting point isn’t correct you can easily add your street address, zip code, city and state, or country by clicking on the Correct it link. 

Location information displayed on left with option to correct it.

For those of you who’ve already set a Default Location with Google Maps, we hope you’ll appreciate this smart new feature that we hope will make Google Maps easier to use for your next adventure. 

Posted by Andrey Salaev, Software Engineer, Google Maps
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps lindros2 7/28/12 10:01 AM
This BROKE the fact that Google Maps ALREADY was set to my home location (zoomed in nicely).

Now - out of the blue - it zooms OUT to my city.  Which I do NOT like.

Why?  Because if I search for "CVS" (pharmacy) it displays it in the middle of the city (which I don't want) rather than near my home (periphery).

80% of my Google Maps searches are around my home.  And I travel 200 days a year.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Richard.SF 8/6/12 11:16 AM
Please bring back default location. At both my home and workplace, Google Maps now launches with western United States. Completely useless and broken. I want it to always open with my home as default location. It's where I do most of my searches no matter where I am. 

Google Maps could have added current location as a new feature/option. Why take away the default location feature? I wouldn't be as annoyed if current location actually worked (for desktop computers without GPS). Opening with western United States is ridiculous.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps wondercow 8/9/12 9:12 PM
I agree, this feature is quite frustrating. Now, whenever I go to Google Maps, I get a zoomed out version of my city, instead of a zoomed in version of my neighborhood. I understand that auto-location might be useful for mobile devices, but certainly not desktop computers and even many laptops. Google's justification for the removal of default location: "A search for ‘pizza’ would return an unhelpful smattering of pizza restaurants located in various sections of the country, no matter which city the user was actually in. This was a poor experience, and it often meant that the user had to do a second search to narrow down her results."

Well, now a search for pizza gives a smattering of pizza restaurants across my entire city, instead of my neighborhood, which I'm in 90% of the time. I'm not going to drive 45 minutes to get pizza. 90% of the time, I want pizza near my house. I understand your motivation here Google, but now you have guaranteed that I have to do 2 searches, which is exactly what you were trying to prevent.

With default location, Google Maps was right on the first try 90% of the time. Now, with automatic location, Google Maps is right on the first try 0% of the time. This feature makes Google Maps less efficient and I hope you will reconsider, or at least make automatic location more sensitive than zooming to the entire city.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Vernon B. 8/11/12 5:03 PM
Great, yet another stupid change by Google. No I definitely do not appreciate this annoying new feature, while it might be useful on a mobile device it is definitely NOT useful on a desktop system. I set a default location in Preferences ( because that is where I want Google Maps to open and I want it zoomed in around that address. If someone sets a default location in preferences then that is what they want and they don't need Google second guessing that.

Either provide an option in preferences to always use the user specified default location or get rid of this automatic location stuff altogether.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps JonJon88 8/12/12 4:55 PM
Sooooo irritating once again. No, I do not appreciate this not smart new feature that does not make Google Maps easier to use.

The default location was good for me, why can't I keep it? I went out of my way to SET a default location because 90% of my searches have my home address as the first field.
If you are able, on my desktop, to actually figure out my address, then fine (you might, as I just registered my home and work address and these
are the most common places I use a desktop at). But if you are not able to do better than "You're in Massachusetts", then just forget about it and revert to the default location.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps greg.h 8/13/12 8:03 AM
Don't like it! Bring back default location!
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Vernon B. 8/18/12 9:54 AM
Another MAJOR problem with this stupid new automatic location "un-feature" is if you specify a street address you get a zoomed out view of the city. Specifying a neighborhood name actually gives better results than a street address ! What the heck Google ?!? In both cases the user specified default location was better. Does anyone at Google actually listen to users anymore ??
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Daniel (Google Community Manager) 8/21/12 2:32 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. I will be sure to send it along to the team to have a look, we're always working to improve the product experience and we really value your input.  

Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps sacksj 10/26/12 11:40 AM
The new default location is completely broken. Last year it would default to a nice zoom level of my house. Now I get half the state.
Please allow us to set our default zoom level!
(unknown) 11/12/12 9:50 AM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Satchidananda Jena 11/12/12 9:51 AM
The default Zoom level need to be changed back to what it was originally....
I really miss that and dont like the current zoom level.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Eric Martin 11/17/12 6:47 PM
Hi Daniel.M,

I agree with the other posters here. It's quite annoying. My old default location was nicely zoomed in on an area just a few miles around my house. Now, if I'm at home, open up Maps and go straight to the search bar, I get results for an area that is literally 100 x 60 miles!! I either have to zoom in then search, or search then zoom in.

Daniel - I like auto-location, just let us pick the default zoom level for that auto location, please. Or at least figure out what the average user prefers and then set it at a more reasonable default for all users.

WORKAROUND - for everyone as annoyed with this change as I am, the best I've come up with is to star my home location. The tiny star shows up on my giant 100x60 mile map. I click on the star, click on "search nearby" and this gives me results in a 3-mile by 2-mile radius on my home monitor.

Anyone else come up with anything better?
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps riparian57 11/24/12 12:49 PM
Using IP address to find home location does not work. 
Google maps used to open centered on my home address making it easy to find relative distances from home to search locations.
Now it centers on a town five miles away.
If I search my home address google maps locates it fairly well, and that address is the one shown in my current location, but google maps still opens on town five miles away
I know, I can easily locate and recenter my location, that it's a minor annoyance, but it's still an annoyance.
Lots of small annoyances add up to major aggravations.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps TheLadyzilla 11/24/12 5:22 PM
Seriously guys, we want the ability to turn off automatic mapping.  "Automatic location based on IPGeolocation contributes to improving your experience."  No.  No it most certainly does not.  Allowing us to set a default location improved the experience, doubly so when we are actually logged in to our account.  I can understand it being automatic by default on all anon users, but not when we are logged in via our home computers and Google accounts.  Why on Earth would I feel like my experience is improved by *not* being allowed to tell it where I am located by default?  Having it insist I am located anywhere from 5-40 miles away from where I actually am (it changes where it assumes I am regularly) is by no stretch of the imagination an improvement.  Why take this option away from us?  It serves no purpose to actively prevent us from speeding up our own searches.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps giveusoptions 12/10/12 2:45 PM
Google, you're damaging your own goodwill with us users...because every time I use Google Maps now, I'm frustrated that I must first locate my own home before I can search for local information. Please PLEASE bring back the "Set Default Location" capability! 99% of my searches are done in relation to my home address. This seems like such an obvious issue, why hasn't it been fixed???
(unknown) 12/24/12 1:19 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Declan Z 12/24/12 1:22 PM
Agreed with many posters here.

Aggravatingly, Google states "Default locations are no longer available. The default location feature sent users to the same location no matter which city they were actually in, so we believe that automatic location is more useful in consistently contributing to relevant results. You can correct an incorrect automatic location as described above."

Hello ... what happened to "don't be evil" guys?

It is NOT more useful, it is NOT more consistent. It used to work and now it always opens zoomed way out and I have to manually zoom in.

And many of us are getting very tired of a company or marketing department telling us to prefer some "improved" option that works worse than the old version (which was just fine) and taking away the option to leave it the way it was.

I suppose it's inevitable that when a company gets this big stuff like this will happen. Google does many things very very well.

This is not one of  them.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps treebles 12/24/12 2:13 PM
you can still override the automatic detection by clicking on the Correct it link.
I used it all the time to troubleshoot Maps and Places issues and it sticks until I change it.
The only thing is that if you type your home address is not going to zoom in to street level, as the old Default View did, rather would use a city-wide zoom but it is better than having Google deciding automatically what map area to display to you based on the geolocation of your IP address.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps giveusoptions 12/24/12 5:23 PM

1) create a custom map of your home address (Google makes it public by default, so click private if you want)

2) do NOT try copying the URL line to make a link, that doesn't work...instead, go to the link icon and copy the link from there

3) create a bookmark using that link

This starts me out with a map of my local neighborhood just like before Google took away "default location."
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Declan Z 12/24/12 6:08 PM
Thanks for the responses!

@treebles: Thanks, I had tried "correct it" but that won't work for me. I suspect many who have this problem live in large cities as I do.  The old way showed my neighborhood, now I see all of NYC.  All of NYC is not useful, as many places in NYC are way too far from me to be considered "my location"

@oakenhills: Thanks great workaround, though I still would encourage Google to change this as I often just type "maps" in the URL/search bar which defaults to Google Maps.  A bookmark is a workaround, but still does not address the fundamental problem that Google's "automatic" location seems more geared to if you live in a smaller town (Mountain View?) than if you live in a large city.

But I appreciate the suggestions!
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps treebles 12/24/12 7:27 PM
yes, I noticed that with NYC, I suspect other large cities have a similar issue. I guess the best we can do now is city-wide, that works reasonable well for small towns and villages, as you found out, but not with larger cities.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps vladjo 1/22/13 9:08 AM
If your city is just not zoomed in as you would like, than you are lucky. I'm from Europe and Google each and every time displays my location as USA. I just wonder how those "America only sites" like Hulu succeed to accurately pinpoint my location (with apologies saying that service is not available for my country) but Google is not able to locate from which side of the world am I... How bad needs to be that algorithm to fail so much, gee...
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Matt Sedlacek 2/5/13 9:28 AM
thanks @oakenhills for your workaround! this has been bugging the crap out of me for 6 months...

I have no idea why google changed this and agree with all the users comments.  I don't see any logical explanation for zooming by default way out from a city centre, completely useless.  I imagine they did this because it would make maps look broken for the minority of cases that someone is in another location (another city) and displaying their default (home) location wouldn't make sense in that case.  ok sure, this might happen, so let the user choose the behavior !!!!
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps giveusoptions 2/5/13 10:30 AM
you're welcome for the workaround! it's been working just fine for me, and has eliminated the frustration.

as to why google did it? i'm guessing they took away default location in order to "encourage" (pistol whip) users to turn on geolocation, so they can track our whereabouts to better market their context sensitive ads.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Declan Z 2/5/13 10:47 AM
While I too appreciate the work-around, I hope Google hears users on this issue because it does not completely eliminate the frustration for me.

I'm a "keyboard shortcuts" user and my habit to get to Google maps is command-L (to go to the address bar) and then simply typing "m" brings up maps as I guess my most frequently used address starting with m.

[Command-L], [m], [enter] is much faster than having to reach for the mouse and click a bookmark (and I haven't found a way to assign keyboard shortcuts to bookmarks, but I may have not looked deep enough.)

So I am still with many users here in feeling that this change is not an improvement, and at the very least Google should allow a user-definable preference to set your view to neighborhood level.

Listen up, Google!
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps giveusoptions 2/5/13 1:16 PM
declan z, here's your solution! it takes a couple minutes of setup, but it's working for me to type
command L
type "m"
and it takes me directly to my neighborhood map.

here's how to accomplish it:

1) create a custom map of your home address (Google makes it public by default, so click private if you want)

2) do NOT try copying the URL line to make a link, that doesn't work...instead, go to the link icon and copy the link from there

3) create a bookmark using that link

4) copy the URL, and manually DELETE the "https:" from it so the address begins with "maps.whatever"

5) paste the "maps.whatever" URL into the omnibox and hit enter. do this several times to build up a history in autocomplete that gives it top priority for autocomplete.

6) now try command L / type "m"

if it works, you're done!

if not, continue:

7) if command L / type "m" does not bring up your custom map URL first, but instead brings up some other autocomplete such as "", then you'll need to weed your autocomplete list as follows:

do command L / type "m"

hover over the unwanted autocomplete entry and do command + delete (or fn + delete depending on what keyboard you have...on my mac wireless keyboard i have to do fn + delete)

zap as many useless autocompletes as necessary to bring your "maps.whatever" URL to the top

if it still doesn't work, be SURE you deleted the "https:" portion of the URL in step 4 above

i hope this works for you. i'm glad for your post, though, because now i have a super-quick keyboard shortcut to access my custom local neighborhood google map...and because i hadn't realized command L takes me directly to the omnibox until you said something about it.

Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Declan Z 2/5/13 1:52 PM
Holy crowdsourcing Batman!

Thanks @oakenhills for the Herculean effort to find a work-around, and glad that was helpful for you.

Seems like a great approach, however I am having 2 problems:

First: Step 4: When I create a bookmark and edit the bookmark, deleting "https://" as soon as I hit enter Chrome takes it upon itself to append at the beginning (prepend?) "http://" so I cannot seem to lose this from the bookmark URL.

Nevertheless, seemed to be on the right track in that this custom URL would come up high in the auto-complete queue.

But it is still always suggesting the simpler first.

Which brings me to Step 7: This 'hovering over and hitting command+delete' does not seem to be doing anything.  Maybe I am doing it wrong, but no matter what I try it won't forget "" (is that written into it's DNA somewhere?)

Thanks again for the suggestion, and any further appreciated as it sounds like you are like me: I'd rather set something up once, and right, and have it work than deal with an extra step (or more) on a daily basis.


Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Declan Z 2/5/13 3:17 PM
Ooh - I went out for a while and I returned to my computer and now it's working!!!

Like a charm!

Great fix, @oakenhills, thanks!
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps giveusoptions 2/5/13 3:38 PM
you got it.
Re: Automatic Location on Google Maps Christian Johnson 3/5/13 12:08 PM
OK, so I'm glad to see that there's a work-around for users where this alleged feature actually "worked," in some not-very-useful way. But what about those of who travel?

I'm an American living in Hong Kong. Indeed, the default splash page when I open up my computer is to Hong Kong, at a scale much too large to be useful. That's bad enough, only...

I'm not actually in Hong Kong right now. I'm in Copenhagen. So why am I being shown a location 5,000 miles away from where I actually, y'know, am sitting at my computer right now

All the adbots in the world, including Google's, are serving up adds to me in Danish. (It's comforting that they're still too stupid to figure out that I may be in Denmark, but I don't speak Danish.) But can Google's mapping program figure it out? Apparently not. 

Is that really so hard to give us as an option? That Google maps might default to....a map that's actually useful where we are?
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