I’m certain this is either heavily influenced or entirely based on the Eyebeam NYC Subway map project. It’s using the same Flash overlay technique.
When I tried mapping across the two islands of New Zealand it also took into account the ferry crossing. Customising it is amazing. Drag and drop simplicity. Right-click context menu. Scroll wheel zooming, with crosshair centering. It’s another piece of mind blowing design from Google.
Grant and I both worked on driving routes for newzealand.com back in the Web 1.0 days. We know how complex maps and routes can get, even in the simplest implementation. That was later updated to include some Flash interactivity first developed by Andy Biggs and more recently given a major overhaul by Barry Hannah which includes extensive geo-coding. They even integrated it with Google Earth.
When I worked on newzealand.com the biggest user request was always more maps, maps, maps. Wisely, Tourism NZ invested a lot of money into building better maps. They could have never predicted (and certainly never relied on) Google developing technology like this. Now it seems like they should be integrating Google maps into newzealand.com, with photos, videos, and driving routes, rather than continuing to use their proprietary system. Of course, they can still take advantage of the database and technology they’ve built, while leveraging Google’s incredible technology and global reach.
Of course, I can only imagine how useful this is on the iPhone. Could some lucky iPhone owner tell me how it really is (cough Wayne cough)? When we were coming up with blue-sky ideas for newzealand.com mobile and mapping were always the big dream. It’s getting much closer to becoming reality, yet it’s still frustratingly out of reach. Especially considering the price of mobile data.