I am an unbelievably huge fan of Google Maps but there is a new competitor in town: Ask City! I haven’t used any of the Ask services in the past (no, not even Bloglines) but this one is pretty astonishing. Can it really be that great?

I didn’t think an online mapping service could keep a clean interface like the one Google Maps has and still add more great features. Ask has done just that with their new Ask City and it is hard to even describe how smooth the site operates. In the screenshot above you can see that there is essentially three “frames”: search, results, and map. At first I was wondering “what if I don’t need the results frame” but then I realized you can maximize either the results or the map by clicking the little box in the upper-right corner of their respective frame.

Still nothing too special…but play around with the mapping frame a little. Yes, those are drawing tools at the bottom which makes it super easy to highlight areas (or just to have some fun like I did in the screenshot). After you get done drawing just click on the “snapshot” option to save your spot in the map along with anything that you have doodled on it. You don’t have to create an account or anything to use this feature so I am guessing that it writes the coordinates of shapes and text to a cookie that is stored on your computer.

The Clear/Undo button lets you erase the drawing canvas or undo the last action but there isn’t a way that you can selectively delete certain elements once they have been placed. Hey…we have to compromise on some things don’t we? ;)

So am I going to switch over from Google Maps? It is tough to say because the satellite imagery that Ask City uses is pretty old in my area which is something I use a lot with Google Maps. If I’m just looking up a business or something I’ll probably be using Ask City though. This is just another example of why Google needs to sit down and focus on making their existing products better instead of constantly releasing new things. They said a few months back that they intend to do that but I haven’t seen much as far as improvements go to their already released services.

News Source: Digg