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Google enhances Maps with a special nod for tablets

by Michael Singer

May 15 2013

The next version of Google Maps will let you see inside these buildings
The next version of Google Maps will let you see inside these buildings

Google’s next generation of its Maps application is creating a special opportunity for tablet developers and end users following a massive upgrade this summer.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Launched in 2005, Google’s Maps app is getting a makeover that both simplifies its interface and adds personalized layers of search and geo-location information, the company revealed at its Google I/O developers conference here.

Changes include better imagery with the use of data compression, improved realitime information such as traffic and transit times, and improved localization features that bypass the red-pin icon and let you see more information recommendations from your Google+ friends and, of course, advertisers. The upgrades are being pushed out to Android and iOS devices later this summer. Developers are able to preview the enhancements now. The update was not a surprise as several images of the new interface were leaked to the web.

Most important for tablet users will be the enhanced street view experience that shows not only overhead views and 3D images of buildings in metro areas, but the ability to actually see inside of a business thanks to contributed panoramic views uploaded to Maps using panoramic photo software such as Google’s Photo Sphere (Android 4.2 Jelly Bean).

“With the tablet version, you can discover the companies inside of the the buildings and what is going on those buildings,” Bernhard Seefeld, product management director of Google Maps told the audience while demonstrating a sushi restaurant he might like to try (at right).

Currently, Google Maps covers 200 countries with more than a million non-Google companies using the Maps API to enhance their own sites and apps. The Street View feature is available for more than 3,000 cities across 50 countries.

Companies actively pursuing the upgrade to Google Maps includes Daimler AG, which is installing the mapping app in the tablet console of its Mercedes-Benz SL550.

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