If you play around with GPS coordinates you will quickly need access to a map. The GPS coordinate numbers do not reveal a geographic location useful to a human. The two go-to internet resources are Google and Baidu. Both have maps for North America and China, but are not as good outside of their competitive areas. As I am in Toronto and have lived in China, I can verify their usefulness for these locations, but for other parts of the world you are on your own.
Google is great in North America. They have really good detail. The Google satellite maps are available in both North America and China, but the China sat maps are inaccurate. In China, however, they play a distant second to Baidu. Baidu is really good in China, but you need to be able to read Chinese. In North America they good. If you want North American maps with some Chinese they have them. Baidu has satellite maps for many parts of China, not all, and none for North America/Toronto.
Google has already started using a newer GPS coordinate system, called plus codes. These plus codes are global. For example, Beijing University, Beijing China, has the plus code of 8PFRX8P4+Q8. These plus codes still do not work with Baidu.
Bing also has maps that use GPS coordinates, but not Plus codes. Mapquest also has something, such as https://www.mapquest.com/latlng/42.4962765,-72.27879283
North American Maps
In North America, maps.google.com allows you to input your GPS coordinates, which then provides a map, your GPS coordinates are highlighted with a red stick pin. You can zoom in or out. You can switch to satellite view and zoom in or out. There is really nothing to complain about, as everything works.
Mapping in China does have some variability. Unlike Google, you cannot simply plunk the GPS coordinates into the Baidu map window. Baidu is or at least was different. In fact, I could not figure out how to find the GPS coordinates from a Baidu map.
A link to the Baidu API, referenced in the second article, requires you to reverse the first and second GPS numbers. The resultant screen has no pinpoint map location. The map also does not expand and contract. Nor does the screen scroll down, thereby cutting off the bottom of the map. This Baidu feature seems neglected and does not work well.
Baidu now has an easier URL structure that does not require reversing GPS coordinates. it is:
The Baidu GPS coordinates somehow do not align with the Google GPS coordinates, though they are close. I do not know why.
For some of China Baidu also has satellite maps. Both Baidu line and satellite maps work well in China. They are more detailed in Chinese than the Google Maps.
Google Maps works the same in China, so no change required. Google Maps have some detail, but lack daily use detail useful to Beijing residents. The large buildings are labeled in English and Chinese, but little else is marked. Google satellite maps seem to be very inaccurate. While the underlying line maps are good, the satellite overlay is terrible.
- North America
- Google Maps: excellent line and satellite maps. Good detail, Input GPS coordinates into input box, or plus Code
- Baidu Maps: excellent line map, all English, some Chinese, no satellite maps, GPS coordinates requires a special URL
- Google Maps: sparse line maps that lack local detail, English and Chinese, satellite map overlay not accurate, Input GPS coordinates into input box, or plus Code
- Baidu Maps: excellent line maps, Chinese only, satellite maps very accurate, not available throughout China, GPS coordinates requires a special URL
Addendum: 2018 April 06, Ken’s Deli, Bedford Mass, USA, 42.4922925,-71.2796261