When Google wants to test new features, they call them Lab experiments, and make them opt-in. Now, following many other services, Google Maps received a Lab icon. Click the green flask at the top of Google Maps and you get a chance to enable features like the following:
Drag ’n’ Zoom: Click the Drag-and-Zoom button, then draw a box on the map to immediately zoom into that place.
Aerial Imagery: Available for certain areas, aerial imagery “gives you rotatable, high-resolution overhead imagery presented in a new perspective.”
Other areas that are part of the labs experience allow the user to search for the best places in that location, giving the latitude and longitude of the selected area as well as the ability to rotate maps.
While the Labs experience that Google has had with other services provides the history that not everything in Labs makes the cut this opening says something about just how serious Google is about local search. Why wouldn’t they be considering the pile of money that it represents and someone has to take it, right?