CityMaps Expands to Boston, Continues Move Toward Customization

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CityMaps logoEven before CityMaps expanded from a Web-only beta to mobile in mid-March, developers behind the social maps provider expressed a desire to excel not only in search, but also browsing. With the updated website and version 2.0 of its iOS application released earlier this morning, the company has continued toward that goal, adding featured maps, new Discovery Bar functions and mobile directional navigation.

CityMaps will also add Boston to its roster of covered cities, which includes New York City, San Francisco and Austin.

Aaron Rudenstine, co-founder and president of CityMaps, told Street Fight that the company has developed its own mapping engines — one for Web and another for mobile. The Web engine remains mostly for internal use, but the mobile engine goes live today in 2.0 and is specifically built and customized for iOS, rendering the search and browse process faster and more user-friendly.

The featured maps will curate critics’ picks for each of the four cities on top of the existing block-by-block maps, according to a release. Users who click on the side of the featured map will see a recommended list, such as New York & Co.’s Guide to Broadway. The layered maps will only be available to select businesses and organizations in the interim, and though the company hopes to open the function up to all users over time, Rudenstine said, there’s no definite timetable to do so.

“The curated list feature will let the top tastemakers in each city organize their recommendations by things to do,” said Elliot Cohen, CityMaps’ CEO. “The lists will lay out roundups of the top activities and attractions — from the best margarita bars to the best museum exhibits — in a more visual way and will make it easier to navigate the city.”

But critics’ picks, according to Rudenstine, are only the beginning. The company hopes to demonstrate that, through its mapping engine, it can geographically organize layered information that, as the features are opened up to the broader public, could be hosted on any third-party website.

“Working with trusted, third-party sources adds utility, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Rudenstine said. “But the real point here is that our platform essentially allows us to ingest any type of data and then publish that data to the map in what we think is a very innovative and new way to view information that has traditionally been viewed as a list.”

The updated CityMaps will also include a redesigned Discovery Bar that will aggregate real-time deals, from sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Bitehunter and, and nearby tweets directly to the user’s screen. The bar will also call attention to businesses recommended by critics.

The service already displays local businesses’ tweets and profiles, Foursquare tips, and reviews from Yelp and Zagat. Users can make dining reservations via OpenTable and view movie showtimes, see trailers and purchase tickets via Fandango.

In a final piece of news, new directional navigation, though only available on the iOS interface, will offer users directions from anywhere to any maps-listed location.

“The ultimate place that we’re going is a place where all that information, both relatively static and unchanging, and very dynamic and real-time comes together to create a very rich experience that is personalized to an individual based on what we know about them and their social graph themselves,” Rudenstine said. “And 2.0 is a major step toward that vision.”

Patrick Duprey is an intern at Street Fight.