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Google Puts More Where In There

Two new online mapping features offer literal spins on the way we get from one location to another and how we learn more about where we are going.

The Web-based applications can give consumers a better look at where they are and they can serve as marketing tools for professionals looking to send their business in the right direction.

During Silicon Valley’s Where 2.0 location aware technology conference in San Jose this week, virtual tours hit the street as Google rotated the bird’s eye view of satellite imagery 90 degrees and swooped in to get a down-to-earth look at the neighborhood, much as Google Earth has been looking at select locations around the globe for years now.

The company also rolled out developers’ tools to create mini applications to put more pop in maps, including those that feature home listings.

Both new features operate from Google Maps, provided you’ve got a computer system with enough robust software.

Limited right now only to the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami, ‘Street View’ is a new feature of Google Maps that lets you view and navigate from street level, as opposed to over head. ‘Walk’ up and down the street, ‘spin around,’ and ‘look’ behind you, examine houses, buildings, landmarks and other neighborhood features from street level.

With Google’s existing mapping features you can pinpoint locations and then zoom in and check them out along with the surrounding community. It’s not real time, but you’ll get a good idea of where you are before you get there.

Street View uses data gathered by Immersive Media and is similar to Microsoft’s ‘Street Side’ rolled out in Seattle and San Francisco a year ago.

Microsoft’s Virtual Earth/Live Search competes with Google Earth/Maps both online and with downloadable software.

A video from the Where 2.0 conference shows how the street level images are captured.

The second Google mapping feature is something called ‘Mapplets’ for both consumers, business and software developers.

Much like ‘Gadgets’ that spring from the ‘dock’ on Apple Macintosh computers, Mapplets are mini-applications or Google Gadgets that pop up from Google Maps and other Google sites and can contain a variety of information including home listings, crime data and school information.

Use the Mapplet preview with a home listing that pops up with the address and other listing information. Then go to the Street View and walk the street, circle the block, view the neighborhood and check out the home in place. Not all homes listed are viewable. Users can create their own Mapplets and make them available to the public.

Also, users creating their own maps can select from a wide range of Google and third party Mapplets to display on the Google Maps site, combined with Google Maps’ existing built-in local search and driving directions functions.

Written for www.RealtyTimescom. Copyright