Google Maps Calling Feature

by Krishna on December 25, 2006

Even though I know how the technology works, the following experience was still amazing and, should I say, so sweet. I had just returned from a morning meeting and had just half an hour to eat something before my next meeting. Normally, I would just go to the restaurant and order something, but today I was running really late. So I decided to order a take out, but I didn’t have the phone number of the eating place.

Now, I had previously seen a feature in Google Maps where you could see the businesses operating within a region. So I pulled up maps.google.com and typed in my zip code and the word “restaurant”. The place I was looking for came up on the map (among other places). There was a phone number and next to that was a simple link “call”. When I click it, it asks me for my phone number which I type in and press a button “Connect for free”. The next thing I know, my cell phone is ringing and I am talking to the order person at the restaurant.

That is the kind of user experience that really blows you away. What also struck me is how different the paradigm is from the typical Yellow Pages. In fact, what I was doing was the web equivalent of searching the Yellow Pages, but Google Maps presented a completely different interface that presented a more intuitive way of getting things done.

It is only circumstance that I want to have a takeout, but I might have been just looking to actually go to the place and eat there. The map interface with directions would allow me to calculate how much time I would have to reach the place and also to get to the next place I wanted to. In addition, there are links to see more details about the restaurant and, of course, to get to their web page.

A lesson here is that sometimes users may actually like your web application for some throwaway feature that you put in there, instead of the main purpose your application was built for.

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