Just the other day, I was browsing through Google Maps and I saw what is properly classed as a “big ol’ building.” Aerial shots and even Street View couldn’t tell me what said building was, and I wished that Google could just check the repository of the Internet tell me what that building was.
Well, it looks like my wish really is Google’s command! Google Maps has added a new feature called “What’s here?” Right-click on the USO (unidentified stationary object ) and you have the option of asking “What’s here?”:
In most of the fairly random places I asked about, the answer seemed to be “We dunno . . . um, an address?”:
However, shopping centers and office parks were more helpful:
What, no shop listing?
That’s better. Note that Google’s already integrated the “at this address” feature.
Physical features also returned some good results. Like the shopping center above, this lake returned user-generated content, such as the pictures that Google layers on its maps:
Interestingly, “What’s here?” takes into account how close you are to the object (in your map view):
For example, if you’re zoomed in closely on Manhattan, you can get the full address of a point by clicking on “What’s here?”. . . .
If you’re a bit more zoomed out, you can get larger features, such as the names of the different Islands in the Galapagos Archielago – Isla Fernandina, Isla Isabela, Isla Marchena, Isla Guy Fawkes, and so on.
In my limited testing, though, sometimes Google could find a business by name, but couldn’t seem to find it for the “What’s here?” listings, no matter where on the block I tried. (And the “big ol’ building”? Google didn’t know.)
This “reverse geocoding” capability has been available in the Maps API for a few months. what do you think—is this a useful tool or just another fun bell & whistle?