What’s Happening In Google Maps

googlemaps1You have to admit, Google does an amazing job with Google Maps.  How Mapquest is still is business is beyond me.  Did you know they also now have Streetview?  Google has been and continues to be the leader in online maps and directions.  This week, the search engine rolled out some interesting features across it’s maps.

About a month ago, Google gave Map-goes an option to enable a few beta features.  Amoung those that make the list, a click and zoom tool which allows you to zoom into a certain area by creating a simple box with your mouse.  The feature it great esspecially if you want to zoom into a certain area faster.  Another feature Google released is known as Aerial Imagery.  It gives you  “rotatable, high-resolution overhead” images.  The downpart to this, is that it’s only avaliable in certain areas, but the good news is that the search engine giant plans on explaning that in the near future. 

Have you ever been planning for a vacation, and trying to figure out what’s close to your hotel?  It’s now much easier with a feature titled, “What’s Around Here?”.  By simply typing “*” into the search box, or the “What’s Around Here” button, a list of restaurants, theaters, and everything in between will appear.  It’s a great feature both for exploring a forgien destination and your own backyard.

For those of you who are into knowing the lattitude and longitude’s of your location, there are two features which should appeal to you.  First there is ToolTips, which allows you to see the exact latitue and longitude thanks to your trusty cursor.  Then there’s Marker, which essentially does the same thing, except it tells you the exact point of a marker that you drop is.  Those are still cool features, that we hadn’t seen before.

Smart Zoom is on of my favorites.  Have you ever tried zooming into a location and you zoom to far that you can’t see anything but a grey background saying you can’t zoom in any further!? Well now with Smart Zoom it alerts you what areas you can’t zoom in any futher to.

But by far, my favorite feature of the new features is the “Where in the World” game.  Sadly, it’s not as exciting as Carmen Sandiego made it, but you play 10 rounds, as Google zooms into certain areas and you are given a list of possible locations and it’s your job to guess correctly.  It’s a great way to work on your geography skills.

However, as much fun as the game is, I do love street view the best.  This week Google announced that 95% of all roads in the UK have been visted! That’s more than any other country.  We, as American’s have been a bit scepitcal of the Google Street car coming into our nieghborhoods, thinking they are invading our privacy.  But the Brit’s are actually boasting and excited to have their homes on the site.  Tourism officals expect this will also help the economy as well, since now foriengers will have full access to the roads in England. 

And dispite the Google/China battle, which is still brewing, views from inside Hong Kong hit the site Thursday morning.  After touring the city on the computer, I was actually a bit surprised at how the city isn’t as crowded as I first thought.

Feel free to explore Hong Kong in the map below or check out all the features dircetly on Google Maps.

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