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Google likes to release some of its new “beta-type” features in what they call “Google Labs” and many of Google’s services have a labs section. Check out articles about Gmail labs features The 4 Fabulous Gmail Labs Extensions You Should Try Out The 4 Fabulous Gmail Labs Extensions You Should Try Out Read More and Google Calendar labs features 6 New Labs Features Introduced For Google Calendar 6 New Labs Features Introduced For Google Calendar Read More .

Well, Google Maps is no exception.  With the Google Maps labs features you can do all sorts of things with Google Maps features from Drag ‘n’ Zoom to Rotatable Maps to Smart Zoom.  As a disclaimer, these features are in a testing phase and because of this they may “change, break, or disappear.”  This list will contain some of the cooler Google Maps Labs features.

  • Drag ‘n’ Zoom: With the drag ‘n’ zoom feature you can now zoom in right where you need to by making a quick box around the area you want to zoom closer on.  I usually use the scroll button on my mouse and other people use the left-hand lever, but now you can add the left-click and drag to the zooming abilities!

  • Rotatable Maps: Google Maps have brought us closer and closer to feeling as if we are holding a real map in our hands except a lot better.  Now, with the ability to actually rotate the map too, we can get a real feel about which direction we are looking in.  In fact, this new labs feature is similar to what Google Earth already does.

  • What’s Around Here?: Have you ever been in a new area, whether visiting or just moved, and have wondered what kinds of places of interest are nearby?  With this new labs feature for Google Maps you can search for “What’s Around Here” with the click of a button.  Usually when I am using Google Maps I am looking for something specific like pizza so I’d search for my specific address or location and then type pizza afterward.  If you are in a totally new area, you may be interested in any kind of place of interest so you can do some exploring.  If that is the case, this new feature is for you.

  • LatLng Tooltip: This Google Maps Labs feature makes use of a tooltips feature and allows you to see the latitude and longitude of wherever your cursor happens to be on the map.  If you are wondering about the exact location of anything, just glance at your cursor and you’ll see.

Remember, these features are Google Maps Labs features and they are still in testing.  Feel free to give them a test yourself.  There are also more features listed.  Some work and some don’t.

In order to activate the features, you have to find the green beaker at the top of the Google Maps page (labeled “new”)…

And click “Enable” next to any feature you would like to try out…

Then just click “Save Changes

Check these new features out and tell us what you think of them.  You’ll notice that some are more useful than others but hey, worth a try, right?  You can’t really break anything because it’s all on the Google Maps website.  Also, let us know what your favorite Google Maps labs feature is.  Really, we want to know.

  1. Phil
    March 20, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Brilliant - it is just so easy to miss the "New" popped away there at top of the screen. These features are really handy - thanks for the tip.

    .... Phil

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