When HotPads initially launched, we created our own mapping technology to provide users with an easy way to search. Along the way we created a lot of different filters that we hoped would make searching for a place easier. Many of these filters have now gone away, but we’re replacing them with something better.
Today we’re happy to announce that we’ve switched the map on HotPads to Google Maps. This is the most popular user interface for maps, so we’re going where you, our customers, are and providing that experience.
Why We Killed Flash
Flash has been around as a technology since the mid 1990s, and as such has gone through multiple iterations. With the increase in mobile usage in the last 5 years, Flash has declined as Adobe stopped supporting Flash for mobile devices. This is a big problem, as recent Black Friday sales show that tablets and mobile phones are increasingly being used for shopping (source):
Mary Meeker, in her 2013 Internet Trends presentation (embedded below), shows that in May 2013 mobile traffic was 15% of all Internet traffic. That was six months ago, and within another six months she expects it to be 25% as new countries come online, skipping desktop and laptop computers completely:
As you can see with the chart below, our traffic from mobile devices has grown exponentially since the beginning of 2010, and according to Inman we are one of the top 10 real estate portal websites in terms of mobile traffic:
Another reason to switch was because of the inability of Apple computers to access Flash. This became a large reason to switch as HotPads receives well over 25% of our traffic from Safari and other Mac-specific browsers. And the iPhone is our most popular mobile device, comprising well over 1/3 of total mobile traffic. Add in the iPad and you get well over half of our mobile traffic.
What does this mean? Over half of you are going to have a better experience on HotPads. And for us, that's big enough of a reason.
Old Map Details and New Map
The old HotPads map was using custom map tiles built on top of a custom Flash application. This was developed by our cofounders, who had experience with mapping technologies from government contracting.
Over the years, this became increasingly untenable from both a server upkeep and map accuracy perspective. With Google Maps, we are able to harness their constantly updating technology, and it means you will now have better and more complete street, among other, data.
Plus, you now get Google Street view directly inside HotPads.
What this means for users
When you use HotPads from now on, you will be presented with the maps interface on the screen, often on the left side with listings on the right side. With Google Maps, you can zoom in and out to view available listings:
In the future, we will be adding in additional map overlays to make apartment hunting smarter, such as transportation information. There are an unlimited number of ways to display useful information, so watch this space!
What this means for landlords and agents
We are committed to providing the best experience for both renters and agents because we believe that this will drive the happiest customers to the happiest agents. Customers are increasingly accepting Google Maps as the map engine of choice, so we believe that by coupling Google Maps with our custom icons, people seeking a property will be better able to find the place they are looking for.
We’d love your feedback
As we said before, we are committed to providing the best maps to help you make the best decision on finding a place to live. As such, we’d love your feedback on which features you’d like use to include next.
If you have 5 seconds, we’d love your vote: