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Google’s ‘Field Trip’ App for Android Adds to Local Offering

It appears that for the past several months the folks at Google have been hard at work preparing for the Apple Maps launch.

They were hard at work because they knew they had a potentially formidable opponent and that even related services to local and location based offerings needed to be strong to face this foe. Of course, even in their wildest dreams could they have imagined the apparent train wreck that is Apple Maps and the Apple local experience in general.

So now all that hard work has paid off handsomely. The latest local offering which is for Android only is an app called Field Trip which allows you to get information about things based on your location. The Verge reports

Google has just launched Field Trip, a new app that the company says is “your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you.” It sounds like it works as a virtual tour guide — with the app running in the background, a “card” will pop up with information any time you’re near a site of interest.

Here’s one of the usual heart-strings-tugging videos from Google to promote the app.

Apple’s Response to Map Flap: Just Use It and It Will Get Better

This is weird. Usually we don’t have to write about or read about a major Apple screw-up. It’s just not how things happen in the world of Apple. Maybe it’s a post-Steve Jobs era sign or maybe it’s just the case of discovering that Apple, the company, is inhabited by humans rather than perfect product producing cyborgs.

Whatever the reason though the Apple Maps dust-up has been a major black eye for the usually near flawless company. Bad directions, terrible images and generally bad information have made Apple Maps a bit of a laughingstock in just a few short days.

Apple’s response? As reported by All Things D Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller offered this

Brits Say Apple Maps Not Their Cup of Tea

One of the biggest question marks surrounding the release of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 was the removal of Google Maps as the backend of the native Maps app for Apple and its replacement with Apple’s own homegrown or ‘mashed up’ version of maps.

Would it be as good as Google Maps? Would it be better? Or, dear lord please no, would it be worse?

Well, if this article from the BBC is any indication, the early results are less than favourable (or favorable depending on which side of the Atlantic you are reading this from).

Inaccuracies and misplaced towns and cities in Apple’s new map software have provoked anger from users.

In June Apple announced it would stop using Google Maps in favour of its own system, created using data from navigation specialist TomTom.

Feeling Heat, Google Maps Makes Panoramic Business Interior Views More Prevalent

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.

Yelp Offers Local Merchants Gift Certificate Option

Yelp, a leading local review site has added to their offering for local businesses by allowing business owners to offer gift certificates through the site. Now in addition to promoting offers small, local players can give a full cash equivalent gift certificate option to customers.

Google Maps Updates Public Transit Data Worldwide

Google Maps continues to evolve with the latest update adding some 1 million stops for public transportation systems around the world.

So why is this big news? Because starting in September when Apple’s iOS 6 is reportedly going to ship, Google Maps will no longer be the backend of the maps app for Apple’s products. Apple has put together its own maps offerings through the purchase and combining of three different maps related companies, further separating themselves from Google. As a result any time that Google Maps updates it will need to be immediately held up against the Apple Maps service to do the age old comparison game.

So back to Google which is the known entity for now. The Official Google Blog tells us about this update to Maps

Does Mayer’s Exit Signify Real Trouble With Google’s Local Efforts?

This is total conjecture here so you can choose to read on or not. Yesterday’s rather abrupt move by former head of Google’s local efforts and long time Googler, Marissa Mayer, to become CEO of the troubled former Internet icon Yahoo, was a surprise to say the least.

It was a surprise in the abrupt nature of the news as well as the where Mayer landed. Let’s just say that Yahoo hasn’t exactly been the home of the best and the brightest in the tech industry with regard to leadership in recent years. Carol Bartz’s reign was not a success. Scott Thompson’s time at the helm was short and ended in a bizarre fashion. Now, we have one of the Internet industry’s darlings taking over a reported mess in what seems a rather quick (possibly hasty?) move.