Photos, rooftops and subway stations on Google Maps

I must be on the same wavelength as Google engineers this week. Yesterday, they released a send-to-car feature that I’d blogged about the day before.

Today, after finishing my post on predictions for satellite navigation, I opened Google Reader to find that Google has added images of businesses to Google Maps. OK, it’s not the same as a PND that calls up images of your destination, but it’s headed in that direction.

newgooglemaps

The images are crawled; many of them are extracted from local sites like Yelp and local newspapers. Unfortunately, there isn’t an indication of which businesses have photos associated. (I’m betting that they figure eventually they’ll have enough coverage that an indicator isn’t necessary.)

The Google pictorial map of my neighborhood isn’t as good as the one that I made on Flickr, but the process is a lot more scalable.

Two other recent noteworthy additions:

  • On the map view, Google is showing the outlines of the roofs of buildings, which look like reliefs made from the satellite view.
  • You can now see subway stations on the map. For city dwellers, this is a key feature. I’ve wanted it for a while. It will save me the step of having to use other tools to find the nearest subway. Now they just need to add the line the stop is on and real-time train information.

Maybe they can work on this next: Personal mashups – letting users redraw the map.

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About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is an analyst focused on the intersection of local, social and mobile. He is a principal analyst at reDesign mobile. Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He blogs at http://blog.agrawals.org and tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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