A small (but nice) enhancement to Google Maps

When using Google Maps for driving directions, there is now an option to “Avoid Tolls”.  As the LatLong blog said:

When half your wallet is already going toward gas, it’s nice if you can save some money for ice cream instead of dumping it all off at the toll booth.

I agree.  It’s a nice little touch.

Fresh new imagery for Beijing

As reported by the Google Earth Blog, Beijing has just received a very fresh imagery update in preparation for the Olympics.  Google Maps is still showing the older imagery, but that will probably be updated soon.

Check it out using Google Earth, or you can view it using this EarthSwoop collection that highlights the main facilities that will be used during the game.s

Google Maps rolls out new interface

It was announced months ago, and it’s finally here — the updated design on the Google Maps site.

It’s not a major change, but it does some nice things.  The tabs are gone in favor of a single search box, and the map area is a bit larger as a result.

More details have been posted on the Google LatLong Blog as well as on Google Maps Mania.

It seems like a nice step forward.  What do you think?

The July update for Virtual Earth is out

It’s not nearly as large as some recent Virtual Earth updates, but there’s still quite a bit packed into this one.  No new 3D cities that I know of, but a bunch of new imagery.  New orthos in a handful of places in the US, all of Austria, and various cities in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.  In addition, there is new satellite and Bird’s Eye imagery for a variety of locations.

You can see the full list of updated areas here.

Huge Google Earth imagery update

Google is apparently rolling out a major imagery update for Google Earth, but the imagery has not yet made it into Google Maps.  This is actually a good thing, because it gives you a way to compare the two and see what the changes really are.

Google Earth Blog has the details, but here is a quick list of some of the updated areas:

  • Catalonia/Spain
  • Portugal
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary
  • Australia
  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Italy
  • Venezuela
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • California

If you find any others, let us know in the comments below.

Google’s Virtual World launches, and it’s Lively

I agree with Google Maps Mania on this — I’m quite disappointed that it’s not built on top of Google Earth.  However, it’s certainly a unique creation.  Google has just launched Lively.

It’s essentially Second Life, but with a million different worlds.  You create a “room”, then embed it on your site.  People can hop into your room and play around.  It’s certainly an interesting idea.

Below is a video with a bit more info, and here are a list of the most popular rooms so far, or go check out GEH Island.

Various improvements to Live Maps overseas

A handful of new features have just been rolled out for the international versions of Live Maps.

Live Search Maps China has just had a handful of additions and improvements, including:

  • Real-time Traffic in Beijing
  • Send-to-Mobile for free for local search and transit routing result
  • Transit data refresh for existing 11 cities including 3 new subway in Beijing (No.10, Airport and Olympic).
  • Expanded coverage from 11 to 31 cities.
  • Geocoding and Local Search
  • Data refresh for existing 114 cities including Olympic Venues.
  • Support city and county name geocoding for areas outside of 114-city coverage.
  • Olympic query relevance improvement
  • Local search category refinement
  • Map refresh for 10 existing major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou etc.
  • Expanded tile coverage for 30 more cities, totally 289 cities now.

Also, Live Search Maps Australia has been released, with data from a variety of sources.  This page has more info about that release.

Streetview goes international!

As reported by Google Maps Mania and Google Earth Blog, StreetView has arrived in France!  It’s not a lot of imagery — mostly along the Tour de France route, but it’s quite cool nonetheless.

Go check it out for yourself, and then post your cool discoveries in the GEH StreetView archive.