Here's an interesting Forbes take on how Google Maps is also a social network but not on the traditional sense that Facebook, Twitter, or even Google+ is. I see this taking place in a manner that should be very interesting in how companies, not just Google, interacts with its users.
See, with more and more users on the move and the increasing in mobile consumption and computing, the traditional sense and take on maps has changed as is evident in how Google is positioning its maps app at Google I/O.
Google and others like Facebook (maybe it'll come out with its own maps) will overlay more and more information based on the user preferences - places they've checked in, places where their friends/families have been to, recommendations based on user information, and, of course, ads.
Of course, in the Forbes post, it made references to how Google has been forcing Google+ on users which its execs deny. Of course, Google has been integrating Google+ with its services in an attempt to drum up numbers and compete publicly with Facebook and Twitter in terms of raw numbers.
However, with Maps, because it has the best mapping service as perceived by most users, Google has never had to force anyone to use it. And by overlaying social features, ads, and other services on top of it, it has creating a social interaction in ways that no other social networks can with its linear timelines and gimmicks to keep users engaged.
With maps, we want to stay engaged when we open up the app on our iPhones, Android devices, or tablets.
And here may be where the central strategy in devices like Google Glass fits in. And to a larger extent, other wearable devices that will soon come on the market.
For Android users, because Google has control over the platform, you can always expect Android to receive the best and latest quickly. However, that is not to say that iOS users won't. Google has realized just how important iPhone users are given their likelihood to be monetized.
This leaves Facebook and Twitter without maps services of its own. Facebook was rumored to try to buy Waze, a socially engaging maps with data contributed by users, but that likely isn't going to work out. It's like Facebook will be forced to work with Microsoft's own mapping services going forward.
That leaves the issue of privacy as Google will undoubtedly try to monetize its user information as much as possible. Given Google's past relations with its users, there probably is not a whole lot to worry about. From time to time, Google will push the envelope and see how the public and the media reacts. It'll pull back if it has to but institute some sort of safeguards.
The benefits to users will be immense. Outside of knowing where your friends and family have been, the social interacts should benefit Google+ and users should immediately see tangible savings and discoveries.
What Maps will ultimately become is not going to be very much different from what Yelp, and, in particular, Foursquare, offers now. At the end of the day, it'll be more interesting to see on a map what people are saying, where they're saying it, and if you should also engage yourself than on a timeline like Facebook.