Google Maps takes it to the streets

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Google launched a new feature on its mapping service on Tuesday that allows people to see panoramic views of streets and buildings.

Google Maps now offers a 360-degree view of many streets in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami, with other cities to roll out later, John Hanke, director of Google Maps and Google Earth, said in a session at the Where 2.0 Conference here.

If the street-level view feature is available, a button will show up on the maps page for the location entered. Clicking on it brings up a window with the view and directional arrows that can be clicked on to proceed in that direction. The window can be made full screen as well, and users can zoom in on street signs, bus stops and other details in the Bay Area. In the company's first foray into image gathering for maps, Google workers drove vans around the Bay Area for about a year and took pictures for the service, a Google spokeswoman said. Google partnered with Immersive Media for the images in the other cities, she said.

Google also launched Mapplets, a tool that enables developers to create mini applications to be displayed on Google Maps. Developers can combine information such as real estate listings and crime data with distance measurement and other tools to create their own embeddable mashups directly on the Google Maps site.



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