The official blog for Google Maps
Calling all 3D Google Earth files
September 24, 2007
Posted by Mark Limber, Product Manager
We love seeing all the great 3D SketchUp models that pop up in the 3D Warehouse. You can find everything from
. The very best georeferenced content appears in the 'Best of 3D Warehouse' layer in Google Earth, which everyone can see just by turning on the '3D Buildings' layer.
is a great tool for creating Google Earth models, but we know sometimes you'll want to go beyond what it can do to create the effect you want. Take all the cool
out there, for instance. So we've opened up the 3D Warehouse to all 3D Google Earth files!
Look for this new button on the homepage of the
This takes you to a simple upload page. You provide the KMZ file, an image representing the file and a description ... and voila! It's in the 3D Warehouse — searchable, shareable and, with a little luck, destined for the 'Best of 3D Warehouse' layer for millions to see. If you're using SketchUp to create the KMZ, please make sure you export to the filetype labeled Google Earth 4 for best results.
We look forward to seeing what appears next.
Street View and Privacy
September 24, 2007
Posted by Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel
Street View is a service that lets people view and navigate within 360 degree street level imagery of various cities in the US. It provides users with a rich, immersive browsing experience directly in Google Maps, enabling greater understanding of a specific location or area. Since we launched Street View in May, we have released imagery for seven US cities. We thought hard about how to design Street View so that the service would respect the privacy of people who happen to be walking down a public street at the random moment when we capture an image. That's why we designed a simple process for anyone to contact us and have their image removed. In the US, there's a long and noble tradition of "public spaces," where people don't have the same expectations of privacy as they do in their homes. This tradition helps protect journalists, for example. So we have been careful to only collect images that anyone could see walking down a public street. However we've always said that Street View will respect local laws wherever it is available and we recognize that other countries strike a different balance between the concept of "public spaces" and individuals' right to privacy in those public spaces. In other parts of the world local laws and customs are more protective of individuals' right to privacy in public spaces, and therefore they have a more limited concept of the right to take and publish photographs of people in public places. Street View isn't available outside of the US yet, but when it is, we'll be sure to respect local laws. We understand that means that we'll have to ensure that there aren't identifiable faces and license plates in some countries. There's an important public policy debate in every country around what privacy means in public spaces. That balance will vary from country to country, and Street View will respect it.
Custom icons for your maps
September 19, 2007
Posted by Keith Golden, Software Engineer, Google Maps
When we first started developing the map creation tools in Google Maps, I found a turkey hiding among the Maps placemark icons, a
, no doubt. I proposed we include it in our icon menu. For some reason, no one else on the team seemed to think that was a good idea. I'm guessing few of you have been clamoring for a turkey, but perhaps you have wished for some other symbol that we neglected to include.
Today we've added support for custom icons, so now you can use any image on the web for your placemarks. Just click on the new 'Add an icon' link in the icon menu, type the URL into the dialog box, and you're good to go. I typed in http://google.com/mapfiles/turkey.png to get my majestic bird.
You can also make up your own icons. Although many image formats will work, PNGs with transparent backgrounds look best on the map. Another idea is to use photo thumbnails. Here's a map showing where some of my teammates and I come from.
As an added bonus, all the new icons you add to a map are listed under the 'My icons' tab in the icon menu, making it easy to reuse them for other placemarks.
Previewing content in Google Earth
September 19, 2007
Posted by Wei Luo, Senior GIS Specialist
You might go to Google Earth to look up something specific—your house, your next vacation spot or close-up pictures of elephants in Africa, for example. Or sometimes you might just feel like wandering the earth, diving in to find out more about a particular location or topic. But where do you start? There's so much fascinating content in Google Earth created by partners like
National Geographic Magazine
the Jane Goodall Institute
that it can be hard to get going. We're happy to announce that we've added a 'preview' layer, a selection of placemarks that highlight our many content layers, to help make this exploration easier. It's a new, easy way to see what's out there without getting overwhelmed.
Say, for instance, you're exploring the southwestern region of the United States, and you click on a National Geographic placemark over Arizona. And then, after reading about the Grand Canyon, you get curious about what other photos National Geographic has of the region. Just click on the 'Show this layer' link at the top of the bubble, and you'll be able to explore this area more fully.
Here's what you'd see in the National Geographic 'preview' layer:
And here's what you'd see after clicking on the 'Show this layer' link. When you're finished looking, you can click "Hide this layer" and the National Geographic icons will disappear.
Every percent counts
September 18, 2007
Posted by Chris Harrelson, Software Engineer, Google Transit
team has been busy lately. In the last few weeks alone we've added trip planning coverage for:
Buses and light rail in
The Las Vegas Monorail
Humboldt County, CA
Thousand Oaks, CA
Bay Area Rapid Transit
I'm especially excited about this last one, since it's our first partner agency to serve my hometown of Berkeley, CA. Oh, and there's one more reason I like BART. As you may know, Google Transit began its life as a
20 percent project
. Now, the fine folks at BART have furthered their collaboration with us in
BART 1 percent time
which is like 20 percent time, only, as our friends at BART explain, "it's one person and 19 percent less time." This data is available for anyone who wants to access it in the
Google Transit Feed Specification
, a creative commons-licensed data format we've developed to help facilitate sharing of data within the transit community.
There's also great news for Europe. We've added transit stop icons to Google Maps for a new batch of cities. In addition to Dublin, Ireland and Linz, Austria, the following 12 cities in Germany have also joined the club: Augsburg, Bielefeld, Bochum, Bunde, Dresden, Jena, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Lubeck, Mainz, Rostock and Trier.
Australia readies itself for a Google Maps election
September 14, 2007
Posted by Alan Noble,
It might not be widely known to our friends in the northern hemisphere, but a federal election is due to take place in Australia before the end of the year. Nothing captures the public's attention or stirs emotion quite like an election, however, many of our citizens do not have easy access to electorate information. A recent
in Sydney of a Google Australian election
helps to remedy this by providing Australian voters with an intimate look at the parties, candidates and election issues.
The main product for this initiative is an electorate Mapplet, which identifies which parties hold what seats, who the sitting member is and what margin they currently enjoy. It has a number of interactive features that allow people to analyze the political landscape in depth. And once the election is called, we intend to add polling booth locations and even more candidate information.
It is worth noting that this Mapplet was built with publicly accessible data using
for hosting and is something any developer could have constructed — all of the tools we used are available to the public. For more information, please view the product demo below.
Happy voting, Australia.
More of the world for you to explore
September 13, 2007
Posted by Dave Barth, Product Manager
Here's great news for all of the virtual explorers out there: Today we added 54 new countries to Google Maps! We've more than doubled our coverage of Latin America and are now mapping three times as many countries in Asia as before. So if you've ever wanted to get the flavor of an energetic metropolis like
or scope out the relaxed vibe of a small island like
, we've got you covered.
Here's the full list of new countries:
Afghanistan, Aruba, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Bermuda, Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen
We have better detail for some countries than others, but this is just the beginning. In coming months, we'll be working tirelessly to add more detail to the existing countries in Google Maps, and we'll also be adding new countries to the list.
The new moon
September 13, 2007
Posted by Michael Weiss-Malik, Software Engineer
, the same side of the moon always faces Earth, like a giant eyeball keeping watch over us. And for most of history, that's all we ever did in return: stare back. Until 1969, that is, when Neil Armstrong took his
famous first steps
. It's not easy to fly to the moon yourself, but we can offer the next best thing.
As you may have heard
, we've released a new version of
, one that fully eclipses its predecessor. This update brings higher-resolution map imagery, text search, and
photos and stories
from every Apollo landing. We even included Street View-style
of the moon's surface, taken by the Apollo astronauts ... something you won't see anywhere else. And last but certainly not least, we tossed in scientific
that are good enough for actual mission planning and science classrooms alike. Check out the
page for more info on all of these features.
Just like the Apollo landings, this was a genuine group effort. Noel Gorelick and I worked with our colleagues at NASA Ames Research Center to apply
the work that we did
for Google Mars to the moon. It was an opportunity made possible by Google and NASA's
Space Act Agreement
, and we hope to continue this collaboration with talented researchers like Matt Hancher, Michael Broxton, Noelle Steber, and the rest of the Ames team on other great space-related projects.
The new Google Moon makes a nice addition to our
growing space family
, which also includes
. If you haven't already, be sure to check out each of these great educational tools.
September 7, 2007
Posted by Mano Marks, Google Geo API Team
On May 31, at
, Google previewed early beta documentation for KML 2.2, the latest update to our geographic data presentation language. That preview introduced a number of important features to KML, including:
Atom attribution elements
Limiting session length in NetworkLinks
Linking between features
When Google Earth 4.2 was released on August 22, KML 2.2 Beta was officially released, with some additions to what was previewed in May. Here's what's new:
, which allows sophisticated balloon templating and gives you the ability to embed your own custom-typed data in KML files. For more information, see the
Adding Custom Data
Linking between features. There was a syntax change for this feature. For more information, see the
KML 2.2 Reference
Sky Data. For more information, see the
Sky Data in KML
Very soon now, KML 2.2 will be exiting beta. I've started a
KML Developer Support group
, so please give us your feedback on the new features of KML 2.2 as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you.
September 7, 2007
Posted by Steve Miller, Product Manager, Google Earth Outreach
We love it when you put our products to work to help the environment. Individuals and organizations have come up with all sorts of creative ways to create maps that highlight the causes that they care most about, and we wanted to recap just a few cool examples from this summer.
In June, the
Commission for Environmental Cooperation
released a layer for Google Earth that tracks pollution from industrial locations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Another Google Earth user
did the same for Australia
using the country's National Pollutant Inventory. Do you know where to
find pollution data
for your own country?
If you're interested in alternative energy, the
San Francisco Solar Map
shows the locations of solar installations around the city. We also found this great
wind power assessment tool
that calculates wind speeds at a given location, intended to help with planning wind farm installations. And in British Columbia, an individual
mapped water licenses
governing hydroelectric power generation. This layer publishes the locations where power companies intend to divert rivers and streams in order to generate electricity, inspiring discussions about the pros and cons of different energy sources.
One last cool thing:
created a map to show people what's within walking distance of residential areas. So if you're thinking about moving, you can easily see how you'll be able to cut down on trips to the gas station.
Want to protect your own corner of the planet? Check out some
learn how to create your own layer
and be sure to
let us know
what you come up with.
Where do you want to fly today?
September 6, 2007
Posted by Gerhard Wesp, Software Engineer, Google Earth
Word is out that the new version of
includes a hidden
. Good sleuthing!
You might be wondering why we hid it in the first place. Well, we know that discovery is what Google Earth is all about, and you've proven yourselves quite adept at finding the unexpected. We knew it would only be a matter of time before you happened upon this new, enjoyable way to appreciate the spectacular scenery in Google Earth.
Check out the Swiss Alps from this vantage point:
And the Grand Canyon:
If you haven't tried it yet, we encourage you to give it a go. The two plane models featured in the simulator are intended to be easy to fly, even for non-pilots. There are no complicated engine-start or takeoff procedures — simply add power and off you go.
Frank Taylor, author of the
Google Earth Blog
, has compiled some
, which you can use to get started. I'd say the most important thing to know is that flying is much easier with mouse controls (or a joystick if you have one) instead of the keyboard.
Another tip: If you don't yet have the "Enter Flight Simulator" item in your tools menu, you can activate the simulator by entering "Lilienthal" in the "Fly To" box. It just so happens that this magic little word works in the same way that the key combination Ctrl+Alt+A does.
Once you've found a nice vantage point, just use the space bar to pause the simulator and enjoy the view for a moment. Then, you can calmly look around using the control and cursor keys.
September 5, 2007
Posted by Keith Golden, Software Engineer, Google Maps
As many of you have discovered, the
in Google Maps is a great way to create maps of your
. But something has been missing: After plotting out a hike in Yosemite, how do you know whether it's going to be a 2-hour hike or a 2-day hike? You can't tell how long the trail is!
Well, now you can. We've added distance measurement to the line tool. Whenever you draw a line, you'll see the current distance as you move the mouse and add new points. The distance is also displayed in the info window when you click on your completed line.
Here's one of my favorite trails. I cut through several switchbacks as I was drawing the path, so the distance wasn't very accurate initially. Luckily, it's easy to refine a path by dragging on the "ghost points" (those translucent squares that appear at the midpoint of each line segment) to add detail in the middle of a completed line. As I did so, I watched the distance increase.
And there it is: a lovely hiking trail in all its wiggly glory. At 12.7 miles round trip, there's no need to pack a tent, but I hope someone remembers the trail mix.
Mercedes-Benz Search & Send uses Google Maps
September 5, 2007
Posted by Tricia Murdy, Telematics Analyst, MBUSA, LLC, and Thomas Bock, Senior Systems Engineer, DaimlerChrysler REDNA Inc.
We are pleased to announce the launch of Mercedes-Benz Search & Send, a new service that enables you to send destinations directly from Google Maps to select Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with Tele Aid. Mercedes-Benz is the first automotive manufacturer to offer this functionality in the U.S.
Search and Send is a convenient way to plan trips from the comfort of your own home or office. Using Google Maps, you can search for a destination online and send it right to your car. You can even have colleagues or family members send a destination to your car while you're on the road.
Once in your car, there's no need to spend time in putting data into your navigation system. Simply push the i-button of the Mercedes-Benz Tele Aid system and the destination will be downloaded directly from Google Maps to your navigation system. You will be prompted to either start route guidance immediately or save the information for later use in your navigation memory.
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