Google Maps Rolls Out Spanking New Features

googlemaps muo 26052008   Google Maps Rolls Out Spanking New FeaturesI have not been much of an online mapper up until now (give me a map and I guarantee to get you even more lost than before!) but while I was casually surfing around the other day, I somehow happened to land upon Google Maps.

While idly clicking on the various buttons, I found some really neat new features that will make me pay closer attention to the site from now on.

If this doesn’t now make Google Maps number one in online mapping then I don’t know what will.

So to review the features, let’s fly with Google Maps to New York, the city that never sleeps…..come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly, let’s fly……

The MORE button

The key to turning on the new features is the “more” button at the top. If you mouse over that, you’ll see two choices, “photos” and “Wikipedia”. If you tick those, suddenly the Central Park area of New Yorkfills up with photos.

googlemaps muo 26052008 2   Google Maps Rolls Out Spanking New Features

The photos, which are locally geo-tagged, are hosted by Panoramio. If you click once on a thumbnail, the photo expands and you can see the photo made bigger.

googlemaps muo 26052008 3   Google Maps Rolls Out Spanking New FeaturesThis kind of reminds me of what Google is doing with their Earth software but by also moving it into their Maps online site, they are giving people the opportunity to experience the features if they don’t want to download and install Earth (I know quite a few people who are not inclined to install Google Earth). Plus you can run Google Maps on your PDA.

Read Wikipedia content on the map

Next up, you can scroll around and look for the Wikipedia symbol on the map. When you find one and click on it, it then gives you the Wikipedia entry for that place so you can instantly be given all the available information on that building / landmark.

This is invaluable if the place is a tourist place such as a concert hall, a theatre or a historical landmark. For example, by scrolling around the map of New York, I found and clicked on the Wikipedia entries for the Savoy ballroom, Fort Lee in New Jersey, and Teaneck in New Jersey. So much information can be accessed at the click of a button!

Watch YouTube videos on the map

googlemaps muo 26052008 4   Google Maps Rolls Out Spanking New FeaturesBut the best feature of all has to be the ability to click on and watch YouTube videos inside the Google map for the region you’re viewing. The difficulty here though is that the videos don’t stand out. There’s no YouTube logo on the map the same way that there’s a Wikipedia logo for the Wikipedia entries. The videos look like photos and there’s no clear way to see them which means there’s an easy way and a hard way to find the videos. The hard way is to click around the map and hope you strike lucky (no thanks) and the easy way, as far as I can see, is to look on the maps sidebar. When you zoom in on an area of the map, the maps sidebar automatically filters out all the media and shows you all the photos and all the videos. But saying that, the maps sidebar tends to be a bit buggy. If you make one wrong click, it sends you off in the other direction and you can’t get back again!

All in all, these improvements have seriously impressed me, so much so that I am seriously considering buying a PDA and taking a closer interest in the mapping sites from now on. It’ll be interesting to see how Yahoo Maps reacts to all of this and what they will bring out in response. Will they copy these features or will they bring out something totally new and totally better to top Google?

The possibilities for these features are endless. Are you going on holiday soon? Then just go to Google Maps and type in your destination. Click through the photos of the area, view YouTube videos of the area and read relevant Wikipedia entries. In other words, go on a “virtual tour”. The same if you are planning to move house and relocate to a different area. You can use Google Maps to do your research. No more flying blind!

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39 Comments -

Gregor J. Rothfuss

Nice article. Google Maps is already number one, though :)

Ron

Actually, mapquest is still #1 by amount of visitors.

Sherri

I love how the driving directions can be rerouted by dragging the destination icon. And even better, drag the little circle to change routes, then the written directions automatically change. If those roads have been photo’d by the Google car, then there’s a camera icon next to the driving directions so I can see the Street View.

Then when I save the LINK TO THIS PAGE as a bookmark, it saves my corrected driving directions.

Aibek

If those roads have been photo’d by the Google car, then there’s a camera icon next to the driving directions so I can see the Street View.

Wow… that sounds cool. I have never seen this feature before, is it something new?

Sherri

If those roads have been photo’d by the Google car, then there’s a camera icon next to the driving directions so I can see the Street View.

Wow… that sounds cool. I have never seen this feature before, is it something new?

Not that new, I’m guessing it’s been going on in bigger US cities for about 6+ months. I’m guessing that long since I’ve seen a few headlines about it coming through my feeds about a people seeing a possible crime being commited, a couple suing because their house is easily available online — but suing kinda backfired because they sued everyone online looked at their house after the news broke, some women flashing the Google Car, one city — in Alaska I think — put a plastic shopping bag over the Google Car’s camera.

Someone posted a photo of the Google car (from a big city not in the US):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/zmx80/2508392374/

Aibek

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I did a comparison post on mapping tools earlier

Top Mapping Tools: Maps, Local Guides & Driving Directions

Geeky Drunk

You’re going to buy a PDA?!? What’s that?
;)

Chris Taylor Jr

OK all I want to know is how do “I” upload images to this! the panar whatever pics suck no description. I will gladly go around and photo every shop in my area to upload to this. GREAT idea!!

Mark O’Neill

To the best of my knowledge, just take the pictures, upload them to a Panoramio account, make sure the photos are geotagged with plenty of tags identifying them, and Google SHOULD in time pick them up. No guarantees obviously.

nivekic

metroseeq.com is another cool mapping site that gets rid of “paging” so that all your results stay in 1 results list. They offer local deals and promotions too.

steve marcus

google always tries to share the booty. it bought grandcentral and maintains its link to gizmo5 while googles talk program is left out.It links to panorama but picasa web nowhere on the horizon in this new feature rich richness.
Good publicity or a plan to later buy these crumbs?
will google buy gizmo5? panorama?
knol will be part of the map to shadow box with wikipeadia?
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Patrick Sweeney

Haven’t they had these features for 3 weeks already?

Mark O’Neill

They may well have but Make Use Of doesn’t “break news”. We just cover things we find interesting. So we’re not claiming that this is breaking news, that this is something that came out just yesterday.

neednewbed.com

but there comes a point when all the info and buttons makes it cluttered and takes away its original simplicity.

The wish feature for me, is this:

When i make a route via google maps, i can drag it around till im happy with it, I wish i could export the route to my tomtom, I know i can export a destination or waypoint, but not a custom route, maybe google and tomtom need to work together.

Feldwebel Wolfenstool

Love them high-rez sat photos for when I’m out trampin’ in the bush.

Computerden

Yet another cool thing from Google

Reid

Google Maps video listing feature is broken. Videos disappear after being posted with in a fairly short time without manually taking them down. Does anyone know why this is?

tips photo

I love using google maps and am happy to see new features. Thanks for sharing them with everyone.

erken rezervasyon

Thank You..

erken rezervasyon

Thanks