Dave P., a reader of this blog, spotted a new UI for the views and layers offered by Google Maps. The new interface enlarges the buttons that let you switch to the satellite view and to the embedded Google Earth, removes the button that lets you switch to the traditional view and adds a layer panel that’s only displayed when you mouse over the satellite button.
Another change is that the list of recent searches and Google Maps views is displayed in the layer panel, so you can quickly switch between custom maps, driving directions, local search results and Google Maps layers.
Google Maps URLs are very long because they include a lot of parameters. They’re way too long to be added to a Twitter message, a news article or a banner.
To solve this problem, Google Maps Labs added a feature called “short URLs” that shows short permalinks when you click on “Link”. The nice thing about this feature is that it uses Google’s URL shortening service, which is very fast, and URLs are more descriptive because they include “goo.gl” and “maps”.
To get the full permalink, you need to right-click on “Link” and copy the location. Unfortunately, Google removes the embedding feature if you enable “short URLs”. Maybe it would make more sense to show the short URL as an additional option
As a former professional cyclist, nothing beats the thrill of being in the peloton and racing towards the finish line. Although I’ve traded in my cycling career for life as a Googler, I’m still a fan and enjoy watching my former teammates and friends battle in races like the Tour de France, which started on Saturday. While the cyclists were preparing to tackle the pave of Arrenberg and the Cols in the Alps, I got to thinking about ways that we can bring that experience to the hundreds of millions of fans who will be following the Tour de France over the next few weeks. Google is home to many other cycling enthusiasts, so we got together to work on ways to build a My Tracks-based gadget that will allow all the other fans to follow the action like never before.
The My Tracks application for Android phones lets you record and share your own outdoor activities, and now Team HTC-Columbia will use a special version of the app with SRM to transmit their telemetry and location in real-time as they make their way through the 3,642 kilometers of the Tour de France. The nine riders (sadly, now eight, as Adam Hanson was injured on Sunday) on Team HTC-Columbia are carrying HTC Legend phones with ANT+ that use My Tracks to capture their location along with their power, heart rate, cadence and speed. On www.google.com/mytrackstour, you’ll see a Google Map showing the team members’ location on the course and a detailed telemetry report. You can observe how Michael Rogers’ heart rate spikes as he attacks the climbs in the Alps on Stage 9, see how many watts Mark Cavendish puts out in the sprint on the famous sprinters’ stage into Bordeaux, and see just how fast riders climb the famous Col du Tourmalet.
From the image above, you can see how Maxime Monfort took the lead during Stage 2 between Bruxelles and Spa yesterday. Right now, the riders are racing in Stage 3, which takes them across the border into France and you can follow all the latest action on our website or directly on your own iGoogle page.
The team also built a map gadget that is available for you to embed on your own website or blog. We’re also publishing an API that any web developer or broadcaster can use to build their own custom application or use to enhance the live television coverage. I’m excited about the potential for web developers and broadcasters to make use of the API and data in creative ways to help all the Tour de France followers (myself included!) get even closer to the action.
This project was the work of many Googlers in their 20% time, and as cycling fans ourselves, we’re happy to be able to share it with the world. We hope you enjoy this unique way of following Team HTC-Columbia over the next few weeks.
Google Maps Labs added a feature that used to be available as a mapplet: distance measurement tool. After enabling the Labs feature, you’ll notice a small ruler at the bottom of the map. Click on the ruler and you’ll be able to use the distance measurement tool by clicking on the map and tracing the path you want to measure.
If you click on “I’m feeling geeky”, you’ll be able to pick from a long list of measurement units, including light-year, parsec, PostScript points, Olympic swimming pools, American footbal fields, Persian cubits and more.
Over the last couple of weeks we introduced several new features to Google Docs, and made updates to Gmail, Buzz and Blogger. The Google Apps Marketplace expanded, and we brought many new businesses and schools onboard. Here’s the scoop:
New Google Docs editors rolling out to everyone
Just a couple months ago we started previewing Google Docs’ new editors for documents and spreadsheets, and on Monday we began turning on these faster, more feature-rich editors for everyone. In new documents, you’ll see character-by-character real-time collaboration, a ruler for custom margins and tab stops, and the files you import from your computer will be much higher quality. The new version of spreadsheets is faster, and includes a formula editing bar, cell auto-complete and much more. If your university, employer or organization provides you with a Google Docs account, you’ll start seeing the new editors by default in the coming weeks, too.
New sharing settings in Google Docs
Just yesterday we launched a streamlined way to share your files more easily in Google Docs. You can set a document, spreadsheet, presentation or drawing to be “Private,” available to “Anyone with the link,” or “Public on the web,” and then customize who has access by inviting specific collaborators. If you’re using Google Docs at work or at school, you’ll also see options that make it easy to share your files just with other people within your organization. Learn more about the new sharing options on the Google Docs blog.
New features for drawings in Google Docs
We introduced several new features for the drawings editor in Google Docs, too. Now you can center objects on the page, resize your entire canvas, view thumbnails of your drawings in your doc list, search across your drawings by text contained within and quickly view a list of handy editing keyboard shortcuts. We also added the ability for you to share drawings in the Google Docs template gallery, so other people around the world can use your creations.
Blogger Template Designer available to all
Back in March we introduced Blogger Template Designer in Blogger in Draft, and last week we made it available to everyone. You can choose from more than 19 stock templates and further customize your design with hundreds of free, professional background images, custom color schemes and pixel-perfect layout manipulation. Customizing your blog and making it “your own” is now much easier.
Google Maps previews in Gmail and Buzz
Last week, we added a new Labs feature in Gmail that automatically displays a Google Map below messages that contain street addresses—saving you the trouble of copying and pasting of addresses from Gmail to Google Maps. You can enable this feature and many others from the Labs tab under Gmail Settings. Google Buzz also integrates Google Maps now too; when your buzz includes a Google Maps link, you’ll automatically see an image of the map that you can choose to include in your post.
For the businesses, schools and organizations using Google Apps, cloud-based functionality continues to expand through the Google Apps Marketplace. There, developers around the world can offer business- and process-enhancing apps that seamlessly integrate with Google Apps. The Marketplace has everything from accounting applications and CRM solutions to marketing automation and project workflow tools. Last week we added five new applications, and this Tuesday we tacked on over a dozen more.
Who’s gone Google?
We’re thrilled to welcome Brady Corporation, a globally distributed safety and security products company with more than 7,000 employees and 90 globally distributed business locations, to Google Apps. Cost savings were a factor in the decision, but Brady’s IT team chose Google Apps to simplify their worldwide IT operations, to streamline the integration of future acquisitions and to offer employees advanced sharing features like real-time collaboration.
Whether your company or school has already gone Google or if you’re just starting to contemplate the move, tune into our live webcast next Tuesday, June 22 at 9:00 am PDT to hear more about the improvements and new features we’ve added to Google Apps during the first half of 2010.
For more details and updates from the Apps team, head on over to the Google Apps Blog.
Gmail added a new Labs feature that parses your messages and lets you preview some content using web services. This time you can preview the addresses from a message using Google Maps. The addresses extracted by Gmail are displayed after a message and you can load a map preview without opening a new page. Right now, the feature only works for US addresses, but Google promises to address this issue.
Gmail already displays addresses from messages in the right sidebar, but you need to click on a link to open the map in a new page. The new Gmail Labs feature has another advantage: it also previews links to Google Maps.
Gmail’s blog says that a map preview feature is now available for Google Buzz, but it only works when you paste a Google Maps link in a Buzz message. Unfortunately, Google’s thumbnails is really small and clicking on the thumbnail opens a static map.
To find the Labs feature, open Gmail Labs and use your browser’s find-on-page feature (Ctrl+F / Cmd-F) to search for “Google Maps previews”. Gmail Labs offers other similar contextual gadgets for previewing links to Flickr, Picasa Web, Yelp, Google Voice messages, Google Docs and the YouTube preview feature is enabled by default. Developers can create custom contextual gadgets for Gmail in Google Apps and hopefully the APIs will be extended to the regular Gmail app.
Google Maps replaced the terrain tab with a tab for Google Earth. When you click on the Earth tab, Google asks you to install a plug-in for Windows or Mac. If you have a recent version of Google Earth, you already have the plug-in.
“Five years ago, shortly after Google’s acquisition of Keyhole, Google introduced the first integration of Keyhole technology into Google Maps — Satellite view. Suddenly, you could see what places actually looked like from the air, and easily switch between this view and the map view. Mapping has never been the same. A few months later, the desktop Google Earth application was released, and now we have over 600 million downloads. Today we are proud to announce the next major step in the marriage between Google Earth and Google Maps — Earth view,” says Peter Birch, from Google.
Even though the new view makes it easier to use Google Earth, since you no longer have to open a new application, I think it’s a bad idea to add it to Google Maps. Google Earth plug-in uses a lot of resources, it slows down your browser and it continues to run in the background even if you switch to the Map tab. What’s more, if you open Google Maps in another window and switch to the Earth tab, a new instance of the Google Earth plug-in will load.
When we first launched Google Earth back in 2005, it revolutionized the world of digital mapping. In the years since, Earth has been getting faster and lighter while adding large amounts of imagery, more ambitious features and an ever-expanding roster of platforms, including support for Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android and even the 2011 Audi A8!
Web browsers haven’t exactly been standing still either. As their capacity to handle richer applications has steadily grown, our ability to bring Google Earth online has grown along with it. In 2008, we released the Google Earth Plugin to developers, and since then thousands of sites have used it to create many cool applications and even games. Now the time has come to take off the plugin’s online training wheels and roll it out on the main stage: Google Maps. So if you’re one of the hundreds of millions of people who use Maps worldwide, you can now explore the world in luxuriantly-detailed, data-rich 3D imagery and terrain from Google Earth. If you’ve already downloaded the Google Earth Plugin, you should be able to see Earth view in Maps right away. Otherwise, you can just install the Plugin to enjoy a Maps experience that includes angled Earth views, 3D buildings, smooth panning and zooming and a great introductory showcase of places to visit and things to see.
Current Google Earth users, of course, will continue to enjoy the full power of the standalone application: KML editing, historical imagery, GPS tracks, tour-creation, Mars, Sky, flight simulator and so on. But for quick online access, the power of 3D will also be available at the click of a[n Earth] button. We’re thrilled to be able to bring this functionality to the web and we invite you to come share the moment with us.
Posted by Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering, Google Geo
Google Maps has been updated and it now uses kinetic scrolling, a feature inspired by operating systems designed for touch screens. Click on the map, quickly move your mouse and then release it. You’ll notice that the map continues to move with the momentum created after you released the mouse.
Now that mobile Google Maps uses the buttons from the desktop interface and both interfaces use kinetic scroll, Google Maps is more consistent.
“Kinetic scrolling is the popular term to denote the scrolling of a long list with a bit of physics so that user feels like moving a wheel. Such a list view is then often referred as a flick list, caused the scrolling involves some sort of flicking gestures. Made popular in iPhone, flick list quickly invades other mobile platforms with touch screen because it just feels so natural and more usable than using the conventional approach of scroll bars,” explains Ariya Hidayat.
Google Maps Navigation, the Android application that offers turn-by-turn directions for free, is now available for the UK and Ireland. “Like other satnav devices, Navigation includes 3D views, turn-by-turn voice guidance, and automatic rerouting. But because Google Maps Navigation is connected to the Internet, it also features powerful functionality you can’t get from other satnav services, including the most up to date map, business, and traffic data, access to satellite and street views, and of course, search,” explains Google.
Google’s application could add all the countries available in Google Maps, but the licensing terms don’t allow Google to show satellite imagery or driving directions in a real-time navigation application. Last year, Google started to use its own mapping data in the US and it’s likely that it will do the same for other countries.
Until Google adds more countries to the application, a developer managed to create Google Maps Brut, a modified version of Google Maps Navigation that supports most countries. Even if Google Maps Brut breaks Google’s terms, you can try it by installing Nav Launhcer from the Android Market.
Google Maps Navigation requires Android OS 1.6+ and comes included as a part of Google Maps for Android v3.2 and higher. To update the software, Google suggests to search for [Google Maps] in the Android Market.