Google Maps knows that they are in for a fight. Even with the early reviews of Apple’s new Maps app being somewhat disappointing. Here is what All Things Digital’s Walt Mossberg had to say about the Apple Maps functionality in an otherwise glowing review of the new iPhone 5
The biggest drawback I found is the new Maps app…….the app is in other ways a step backward from the familiar Google app. For instance, while Apple’s maps feature a 3-D “Flyover” view of some central cities, they lack Google’s very useful ground-level photographic street views. And they also lack public-transit routing. Apple will instead link you to third-party transit apps.
This battle goes on, however, even outside of the mobile realm. Google realizes that on the desktop people use Google Maps for the most part. There is no online Apple Maps equivalent. So by creating a superior service where Apple can’t compete currently maybe Google feels this will spill over into the mobile map experience which is a main feature of any mobile experience.
So to that end Google has made it easier for users to see into a business using their panoramic photos from Google Maps directly. The Google Lat Long blog says
Now, if you’re searching or browsing Google Maps and want to check out what a business looks like on the inside, we’ve improved your ability to find and view these 360-degree panoramics. Simply drag and drop the orange Pegman on the left hand side of your screen onto an orange circle on the map. Voila! You’ll be virtually transported through the doors, and able to pan around and explore the interior of the establishment.
I hope that this experience is replicated in the mobile environment because it would be very cool. Right now it’s not as easy to get to these great panoramic inside views of businesses via mobile but when you do get there it can be pretty fascinating. Take a look at this presentation of Big Al’s BBQ in Raleigh, NC which was done by a Google trusted photographer.
It’s a great feature and Google knows it but it also knows that the mobile space can start to slip away if they are not careful. The iPhone 5’s momentum will be very hard to stop no matter what Samsung or any other Android device maker is doing.
Here is a video showing the potential importance of these business photos.
So what do you think about this feature? Is it helpful to more easily see inside a business? Do you think it helps you to decide whether you would go there or not? Let us know in the comments.