Google Charts New Territory with Map Beta

Google today offered up a new way to search the information superhighway forthe best routes on terra firma’s highways with a beta release of Google Maps.

Some are already touting the site as a vastimprovement over offerings from Yahoo and Mapquest.

“This launch may not have the fanfare associated with other Google newproducts, but it is one that clearly demonstrates how Google isdetermined to bring its search technology to a level above the simpleblue text links you see on a typical Web search,” Andy Beal, vice presidentof search marketing at WebSourced, told TechNewsWorld.

Nice Navigation Features

“The new maps are already a cut-above those offered by the other search engines,” Beal said. He pointed to the ability to drag themaps around to view a wider area and a slider feature for zooming in andout. Google also links mapping ability to its local search feature, allowing users to both find and get directions to businesses.

“Google Maps offers an interface that is intuitive and easy to use and mapsthat are easy to read. The options to search for businesses and have aninteractive map display their locations, while also showing you how to getthere from your home, is something that will further increase Google’saudience reach,” Beal said.

Google maps is compatible with Firefox and Internet Explorer 5.5 and later.So far, maps are available for the United States, Puerto Rice and parts ofCanada.

In its FAQs, Google said that it is working on adding a way to savelocations, a function the beta does not have.

Battle Rages

The ever-escalating battle for viewers and the potential ad dollars thatcome with them has prompted many search innovations. Google, Microsoft,Yahoo, and even Amazon — which debuted A9 in April and added a nationwideyellow pages directory with images of business storefronts in January — areall fighting for eyes.

Beal said that Google’s latest salvo is worthy of a view.

“This is an exciting step for Google,” he said. “With Google’s recentacquisition of Keyhole, we can expect to see these maps evolve even furtherwith options that include satellite imagery.”

Google bought Keyhole, which produces Web-based software for viewingsatellite images, in October.

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