Google Maps takes it to the streets

By Elinor Mills Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Published: May 29, 2007, 12:44 PM PDT

Last modified: May 29, 2007, 1:01 PM PDT

Google Maps takes it to the streets

update SAN JOSE, Calif.–Google launched a new feature on its mapping service on Tuesday that allows people to see panoramic views of streets and buildings.

Google Maps now offers a
360-degree view of many streets in the San Francisco Bay Area, New
York, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami, with other cities to roll out later,
John Hanke, director of Google Maps and Google Earth, said in a session
at the Where 2.0 Conference here.

If the street-level view feature is available, a button will show up on
the maps page for the location entered. Clicking on it brings up a
window with the view and directional arrows that can be clicked on to
proceed in that direction. The window can be made full screen as well,
and users can zoom in on street signs, bus stops and other details in
the Bay Area. In the company’s first foray into image gathering for
maps, Google workers drove vans around the Bay Area for about a year
and took pictures for the service, a Google spokeswoman said. Google
partnered with Immersive Media for the images in the other cities, she
said.

Google's street view

Google also launched Mapplets, a tool that enables developers to
create mini applications to be displayed on Google Maps. Developers can
combine information such as real estate listings and crime data with
distance measurement and other tools to create their own embeddable
mashups directly on the Google Maps site.

“One day we were looking at two of the original Google Maps mashups, HousingMaps.com and ChicagoCrime.org,
and we realized it would be even more useful if they could be combined
because most people wouldn’t want to live near high crime areas,” Thai
Tran, Google Maps product manager, wrote on the Google Maps blog.

One analyst said Google is playing catch-up with its street-level view, but is pushing it further than competitors.

“It’s a valuable addition to maps and complements the satellite view,”
said Greg Sterling, founder of consultancy Sterling Market
Intelligence. “Microsoft has had this for over a year but hasn’t rolled
it out beyond Seattle and San Francisco. (Amazon.com’s) A-9 also had
it, but shut it down.”

 

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Also on Tuesday, Microsoft launched a three-dimensional version of New York at Live.com Maps
and said it would roll out 3D views of Austin, Texas; Cape Coral, Fla.;
Cincinnati; Indianapolis; Northampton, England; Ottawa; Savannah, Ga.;
and Tampa, Fla., throughout the day. The maps show aerial views of
Times Square, Central Park, Wall Street and other spots and include
maps and driving directions, as well as yellow-page listings, consumer
ratings and reviews for businesses.

Meanwhile, a start-up called EveryScape
unveiled a preview of an interactive “eye-level” maps search site that
is designed to show streets and points of interest, as well as the
insides of buildings. Users will be able to contribute text and links
to the site, which will launch with views of San Francisco in
September.

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