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Google, Yahoo and Live Expanding Their Maps

In the last 24 or so hours, all of the big three search engines have had news about expanding their maps programs.

Live Maps Gets Way Cooler
Live Search Maps and Virtual Earth 3D both got major tweaks this week, rolled out yesterday. The Live Search blog lists among the improvements:

  • Directions and Traffic enhancements, including 1-Click directions (Party Maps!)

  • Improved 3D cities (Las Vegas is shown below)

  • Labels in Birds Eye imagery

  • Exporting collections to your navigation or GPS device

  • Tour enhancements, including HD movies

But the Live Maps/Virtual Earth blog has a much more extensive list of cool new features.

Live Maps: downtown Denver, birds eye view

Live Maps’ downtown Denver, Birds Eye View

Perhaps most important in this update, as pointed out by TechCrunch, is the integration of Keyhole Markup Language, or KML. KML is the language used to mark up personalized Google Maps—and now you can easily import your personalized map marks into Live Maps. And as RWW says, this import function can now work both ways, but with Google Maps having started it first, there’s a bigger potential for them to lose out in the move.

Yahoo Maps Adds More Pictures
The Yahoo Maps and Local blog announced today that they’re adding more enhanced imagery to their maps. As Search Engine Land notes, Yahoo hasn’t been a major player in the “maps race” that Google and Microsoft are waging.

In their largest update thus far, Yahoo says they have improved the breadth and the depth of their photographic coverage; most of the pictures are aerial views.
Yahoo Maps: downtown Denver

Yahoo Maps’ downtown Denver

Google Maps Taking Street View to Australia; The Australian Fights Back
The Australian reports today (or yesterday, depending on that whole International Date Line thing) that Google is taking Street View to Australia. Naturally, privacy advocates in Australia are as outraged as they were here.

The Australian in particular seems to be pretty ticked at Google. The best reason that I can find in their article for their borderline hostility is this:

While Google has defended the project, the internet company baulked when The Weekend Australian requested the personal details and addresses of the group’s key figures to allow the paper’s photographers to take pictures of their homes. “Providing those details would be completely inappropriate,” said Google spokesman Rob Shilkin.

He said Street View only contained imagery “that anyone can already see walking down a public street”.

Since the spokesman refused to give out exec’s “personal details” and addresses, The Australian decided to do it the hard way: research them and publish all but the street address.

Wondering how many square meters Google’s general manager’s house is, or how much he bought it for and when? Or how about how many different birthdates Google’s director has on ASIC (Australia’s SEC equivalent) filings, and what they are? Or what percentage of his new start up the creator of Google Maps owns and who his business partners are?

While all of this information—everything from the appearance of your property from the street to the sales price to your house to ASIC (and SEC) filings—is public domain, the way this is written it sounds more like an attempt at “Oh yeah? Well, let’s see how you like it.”

I’m sure these individual company employees won’t like it very much, but, despite their high-level job titles, their personal feelings probably have little bearing on the company’s decisions. Way to bully the pencil pushers.


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