Posted April 11, 2008 6:29 pm by with 10 comments

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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.

  • Why they do this expanding almost in the same time?

  • jojo

    The Australian has a bogus argument about Google. They don’t have a lot of brainpower over there. Google isn’t highlighting or calling attention to one person’s property. The Australian wants to highlight in response. Let me give those idiots an example. The phone book has many names and addresses and phone numbers of those names. Say I worked at Google and I saw my name, address and phone number listed and blending in with all the other name, addresses and phone numbers. Should I get pissed and call the phone book company up and tell them I work for Google and tell them I am going to put the CEOs name, telephone number and address on Google’s homepage for hundreds of millions to see because my name, address and phone number are listed in the phone book blending in with all the others? How stupid would that be? Big difference right. You say that you have the option of not being listed in the phone book? Google gives anybody the option of people taking photos of their property down from website although those pictures are taken from public streets and Google has a right, but they will take it down if the person does not want the photo up.

  • This is a wonderful move by Yahoo. Yahoo has alwyays been known for their great YahooMaps before Google started to dominate this field. YahooMaps were accurate and I even remember a few people that would save maps that they routed for their destinations and saved them in a binder. The new features that Yahoo has rolled out can certainly compete with Google’s advanced mapping system. The use of KML will now allow user to import their personal like you could do with Google. It seems that Yahoo has a few tricks up their sleeves.


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  • I’m usually not a big Microsoft Supporter, but I have to give them credit for where it’s due. Live Maps is a good product. I like Yahoo for maps as well, but Microsoft is doing maps better in my opinion.

    Surprisingly Google which really got all the map stuff started is my least favorite of the three.

  • Looks like MS maps getting cooler that Google’s.

  • That first shot was very cool, thanks for sharing.

  • Steven, why is Googlemaps your least favorite. Don’t you find it to be more dynamic, especially with their map API and their street views? 3D is still virtual and street views shows you reality.

  • The maps feature on all three search engines has been a great and powerful tool. It is no surpise that the race to out do each other is evident. How far will it go?

  • Jordan McCollum