AOL on Tuesday relaunched MapQuest with a new "brand identity" and features to support consumers' increasing demand for locally relevant Web content.
As such, the site now integrates directory information from AOL's hyper-local news and information platform Patch into its search results. Patch's directory includes restaurants, stores, government offices, local services, parks and schools.
Christian Dwyer, SVP and general manager of MapQuest, said the changes reflect AOL's renewed focus on content, and finding creative ways to incorporate it into consumers' Web experience.
"Under the new leadership at AOL, we have invested in creating a new user experience that helps users discover what is there, nearby and along the way, making it more than how to get from Point A to Point B," said Dwyer.
Other new features include one-box search for finding directions, maps and businesses; improved My Maps with a simpler login process using existing services from OpenID to Twitter; and the ability to more easily save and customize information -- including My Maps trip itineraries -- and share it with friends via social networks, including Facebook and Twitter.
MapQuest reached more than 49.1 million users in May, according to comScore. Still, the service has faced competition from Google Maps, and newcomer Bing Maps.
Jon Brod, EVP of AOL Ventures, Local & Mapping, describes MapQuest as "a central part of AOL's Local and Mapping strategy." Therefore, "enhancing the brand identity, improving the UI and incorporating original content from Patch are all steps toward revitalizing the MapQuest brand and making it more relevant to consumers."
AOL has therefore created a new logo for MapQuest, featuring the service's initials, and which Brod considers equal parts simple, clean, and fun.
Trying to stay one step ahead of mobile rivals, MapQuest recently announced the availability of basic voice guidance on MapQuest 4 Mobile for iPhone.
As part of AOL's broader local push, the company recently announced plans to revive its City's Best brand in 25 markets by September. City's Best is an eight-year-old brand, which AOL stopped funding in late 2008. The site, which features entertainment recommendations, is expected to combine professional editorial with consumer opinions and straightforward voting features.