The official blog for Google Maps
Ho Ho Ho! Track Santa around the world with Google’s Santa Tracker
December 24, 2014
After 23 days of preparation, the elves are finally ready for Santa’s annual journey around the globe. They’ve taught each other how to say
"Santa Claus" in Swedish
, guided their friends through mazes
, brushed up on
, and learned about
organizations making a difference worldwide
. It’s been a busy month, but Santa’s sleigh is now ready for lift-off!
The elves brushed up on coding fundamentals with blockly maze games
The elves decorated their trees with ornaments about organizations making a difference
Each stop on Santa’s journey offers more to explore—discover 360-degree imagery, Wikipedia snippets, geography facts, and updates on how far Santa’s current location is from yours (take note—Santa’s path is not a direct one!). Come back and visit
throughout the night for more surprises, like sleigh selfies or a
latitude and longitude game
to deliver presents.
Follow Santa on any screen—desktop, phone, tablet, or TV
If you’re on the ho-ho-go, download the
Santa Tracker App for Android
to keep track of Santa on your phone or tablet. With the Android app, watch Santa’s journey on your TV using Chromecast, or on your wrist with Android Wear (especially handy when wrapping last-minute gifts). And, you can always search for Santa on
, and get real-time location updates with Google Now in the Google App.
Santa’s available at the flick of the wrist with Android Wear
Santa’s got a long and exciting night ahead of him before heading back to the North Pole. Grab some eggnog, set out the cookies, and join Google Maps on
Posted by Brendan Kenny, Reindeer Platform Engineer
Do some holiday (window) shopping with Google Maps
December 19, 2014
So much of the fun of holiday shopping is seeing the lavish, seasonal displays in the windows of shops and department stores as you pass by. Starting today, with
Google Maps Business View
, you can see decked out displays in New York and London—without braving the cold weather, lugging bags around or fighting for sidewalk space with fellow shoppers. Now grab your virtual reindeer because we’re off to our holiday window tour!
Stopping by Saks Fifth Avenue is a must for any holiday window shopper. Gazing at the dreamy
Once Upon a Time in NYC
, you can imagine being Cinderella in a magical carriage. Note: Prince Charming and glass slipper sold separately.
Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, USA
Cruising by Macy’s in Herald Square, a
Miracle on 34th Street
awaits. Peering through the glass, you can see
Santa and his elves
hard at work. After all, we’re only a week away from their big night!
Macy’s, New York, NY, USA
Rounding out our NYC tour, Bloomingdale’s is getting the
New Year’s Eve
party started early. There’s no place to ring in 2015 like in the bright lights of the big city.
Bloomingdale’s, New York, NY, USA
Holiday shopping in London may be blustery and cold, but the lovely, inviting window displays are sure to warm the heart. Stopping first at Selfridges, you can go on a
themed journey from fairytale to fable
, all finished with rhymes...even their windows have labels!
Selfridges, London, UK
Looking into the
gilded window displays
at Liberty London, you might believe that all that glitters is gold after all. Look closer to see the plethora of presents tempting you inside to the promises of holiday joy behind the glass.
Liberty, London, UK
And finally, if you’re doing some last minute shopping, you can prepare for a trip by taking a look
the stores in Google Maps.
, provides virtual tours of thousands of retail shops around the world, whether you’re headed to
in San Francisco or
in Russia. Just look for the “See Inside” marker on Maps, Search and Google+, which lets you virtually explore your holiday shopping destination.
Walking in a winter wonderland
has never been so easy (and warm!).
Posted by Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, Product Manager, Google Maps Business View
“See inside” with Google Maps Business View
December 17, 2014
Here’s a Google Maps insider tip: Street View isn’t just for streets—it goes indoors, too! With
Google Maps Business View
, you can preview 360-degree virtual tours of restaurants, hotels, shops in more than 30 countries around the world. And
this just in
: we’ve got something special for fans of
The Colbert Report
The series concludes tomorrow, but you can still feel like you’re in the audience (or relive the good ol’ days) with a
brand-new virtual tour of the studio
. And the show has created an
with the Business View imagery that lets you explore and remember some of your favorite moments from the show. And for those who want to tour more entertainment and news studios, check out our
The Colbert Report studios, NYC
Business View may also be your best new travel companion. Whether you’re traveling to see your family for the holidays or planning a romantic getaway for the new year, you probably want to make sure the ambiance of the hotel is right for the occasion. With Business View, you can see inside thousands of hotels around the world on Google, including hundreds of
hotel locations (pool included!).
Hilton, Salt Lake City, UT
In addition to finding the right spot to lay your head, you can turn to Business View to find the perfect restaurant for a meal out with friends, or get a sense of whether a tourist destination is worth the trip. Check out the decor and vibe of dazzling restaurants like
Alux Restaurant Bar
in Playa del Carmen, and
Riad Nejma, Paris, France
To access Business View on your desktop, mobile or tablet, look for the “See Inside” marker on Maps, Search and Google+, which will take you into the virtual tour of your destination. You might be surprised what you find inside.
Posted by Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, Product Manager, Google Maps Business View
Map this way—Google My Maps now in Drive
December 10, 2014
Whether you’re planning an epic
with friends or mapping out your favorite runs for a
, it’s easy with
Google My Maps
, our custom map creation tool. Starting today, you can access My Maps right from Google Drive, so it’s even easier to create, access and share your custom maps.
Creating a custom map is just as easy as opening up a new Google Doc. Just select “New,” then “More,” then “Google My Maps” to tap into your inner cartographer.
Create a new custom map right from Google Drive
Over the next week, all the maps you’ve created will also be accessible in Google Drive, so you can easily organize, manage and share them. Create folders such as “Travel,” “Hiking” and “Holidays,” and search through them to find your favorite custom maps—which might be as varied as
Fourth of July Trip
Magic City Half Marathon & 5K
In addition to accessing your Google My Maps in Drive, you can now add more layers and points of interest to your map, import bigger spreadsheets and include more details in each info box. Whether you’re mapping out the best
down under or
in California, you can add all your favorite areas with more details across even more layers.
Surf spots in Australia
Whatever your needs for the holiday season, the new year and beyond, Google My Maps—now accessible in Google Drive—makes planning that much easier.
Posted by Dylan Lorimer, Product Manager, Google My Maps
Drive by Dubai with Street View
December 8, 2014
Dubai is home to the world’s
and the planet’s only
. With all these modern wonders, it’s no surprise that Dubai hosted 10 million global visitors last year—and aims to hit a record-breaking 20 million visitors in 2020. Starting today, it can add virtual visitors to that list, as Dubai becomes the first city in an Arab country to be added to Street View in Google Maps.
Start your tour with a drive on
Sheikh Zayed Road
, the longest road in the Emirates that runs in parallel to the coastline. Peer up at the city’s iconic skyscrapers and high-rise towers that, in some cases, reach more than 1,000 feet into the clouds. On one side, you can see the city’s elevated and driverless metro system.
Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
Along Financial Road, pass
, home to thousands of shops. But with an average of 75 million visitors every year, the mall is more than just a retail space. Inside is a 10 million-liter aquarium -- one of the largest suspended tanks in the world -- and a facing it there is a flock of
famous dancing fountains
Dubai Mall, Dubai
Most of Dubai’s buildings were
constructed in the last decade
, but if you’re curious to go back to where it all began, visit
. Here, the great-grandfathers of present-day merchants set up shop, creating one of the region’s biggest markets and establishing a major link in the time’s global trade routes.
Deira Spice Souk, Dubai
Finally, no visit of Dubai is complete without touring the
. Known for its fusion of past and present cultures, and its trading connections with countries around and beyond the Arabian Gulf, along its banks you can see merchant dhows docked and bazaars bustling with silks and spices.
Dubai Creek, Dubai
It’s hard to believe that a city not much larger than 4,000 square kilometers has become such a hub of modern culture with more than 200 nationalities mingling daily, as well as a center for trade and tourism in just four short decades. We hope that you’ll be inspired to explore its wonders in person, but until then, they’re just a click away.
Posted by Mohamad Mourad, Regional Director for Google, Middle East and North Africa
Google Street View
Viva La Espana: 50 new Street View sights in Spain
December 5, 2014
The Iberian Peninsula has a rich and varied artistic, architectural and cultural legacy. Roman remains, Al-Andalus, Gothic splendor and 19th century Catalan modernism are just a few examples of what you might see travelling around Spain’s cities and countryside. And starting today, people all over the world will be able to explore 50 new iconic locations in Spain with Street View on Google Maps.
Peruse architectural details of the
Alhambra and Generalife
, walk around the
Tower of Hercules
(a Roman Empire-era lighthouse), and gaze up at the vast arched ceiling of the crypt at the
Church of Sagrada Familia
The Courtyard of the Lions at the Alhambra
Inside of the Church of the Sagrada Familia
In addition to these famed sights, you can also discover lesser-known treasures. Visit the desertlike world of the
natural park in southeast Navarre, Neoclassic architecture at the
Congress of Deputies
and colorful stained-glass windows in the
Cathedral of León
. Or make a trip to the
small medieval town of Albarracín
, a walled lordship that has stood for centuries.
Casteldetierra, Bardenas Reales natural park
Inside the Congress of Deputies
This 360-degree imagery was collected by our
, a backpack equipped with Street View technology that allows the wearer to capture imagery while walking. To capture details of the fine art and architecture inside these magnificent sites, we enlisted the help of the
. And for more sprawling locations, the trusty
captured imagery while its rider pedaled.
If this collection piques your interest to see these locations in person, you’re in good company. In fact, according to the
survey on the Impact of Online Content on European Tourism
, more than half of EU travelers consult Internet sites and social media in order to get information about trips. But even if you’re not planning
anytime soon, the wonders of Spain are now just a click away.
Published by Amita Khattri, Street View Program Manager
Google Street View
A moment of zen: 100 incredible satellite images of planet Earth
December 2, 2014
Thanksgiving weekend was a busy one for many Americans. Traveling, shopping, cooking, and visits with friends and family can be a bit hectic.
For a mental break, we invite you to visit
, a collection of 100 beautiful images from around the world, all taken from Google Maps’ satellite imagery. Landscapes from every continent are included, even Antarctica.
Banc d'Arguin National Park, Mauritania
Garden City, USA
While you’re browsing, you can visit the location in Google Maps or download a high-res wallpaper formatted for your computer, smartphone or tablet. For Chrome desktop users, we’ve also released a
that lets you see even more imagery.
We hope you enjoy this virtual vacation… no actual travel required. Relax with a hot beverage,
, and if you find a particularly beautiful spot not on our site, please share it with us in the comments.
Posted by Aaron Koblin, Data Arts Team
Race with Rudolph and skydive with Santa in the countdown to December 24
December 1, 2014
December may mean snow days in Denver, Colo. or beach days in Sydney, Australia, but in
, it means the countdown to Santa’s big night. Starting today, the elves are back on the clock in the North Pole—and throughout the month of December, you can join the elves as they unlock a new project or game each day in preparation for Santa’s annual journey around the world.
The elves have a busy month ahead of them—the reindeers need training and the presents need packing. They’re studying up on Santa’s upcoming stops with candy cane cartography,
holiday tradition tests
Throughout the holiday celebration, our own developer elves here at Google have also been hard at work getting the sleigh tracking algorithm ready for prime time. They’ve been adding finishing touches to the
Santa Tracker App for Android
so Santa’s just a tap away on phones, tablets, and TVs. The developer elves have been busy, so check out the
and keep a
out for Santa surprises throughout the month.
Whether you’re wearing snow goggles or sunnies this December, come back to
each day to join in on present parachute practice and
, or to send a call to friends from Santa. There’s only 23 days to go, so follow Google Maps on
in the countdown
Posted by Sandy Russell, Santa Launch Strategist
Is your goose cooked on Turkey Day? Never fear, Google Maps is here!
November 24, 2014
Thanksgiving dinner is the meal we look forward to all year. And chances are...all of your family and friends agree! So if you’re hosting and not exactly a whiz in the kitchen, making the meal can be daunting. Good news: if you burn that Thanksgiving turkey, all is not lost. Here’s a go-to guide to keep your family festive (and fed).
Our friends over at Zagat.com have made it easy to find top-rated restaurants for Thanksgiving. With city spotlights in
(to name a few!), you can check out top-notch Thanksgiving dinner options -- whether you want a traditional Thanksgiving meal or would rather try tacos or sushi.
If your family is a fan of Italian, Zagat recommends
Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
in NYC. You can make sure the ambiance is right with the Google Maps “
” feature and check out the info card to see diners' ratings and reviews as well as the Zagat summary. Once you decide where you want to go, Google Maps’ turn-by-turn directions will get you there as quickly as possible.
Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, NYC, NY
If you’re up for a feast,
EDGE Restaurant and Bar
in Denver has what you need. Zagat recommends the three-course prix fixe Thanksgiving meal, including turkey, veal sausage-and-sage stuffing and an herb-rubbed beef tenderloin with sweet potato gratin and porcini mushrooms. Check out the gorgeous dining room to get you in the mood!
Edge Restaurant and Bar, Denver, CO
Or if you have a sweet tooth, skip straight to dessert in San Francisco. Just in time for Thanksgiving, one of Zagat’s top ice cream shops is creating sugary confections that are sure to please you and your family. Save yourself the time (and stress!) of baking and pick up some pies and sweet treats at
Ice Cream Bar
on Cole Street.
Ice Cream Bar, San Francisco, CA
Whatever--and wherever--you decide to feed yourself, Google Maps and Zagat wish you a Happy Turkey (or sushi or pasta) Day!
Posted by Susan Cadrecha, Google Maps Turkey Traveler
7 traffic tips to get you to the Thanksgiving table
November 18, 2014
Thanksgiving means gearing up for a turkey feast, Thanksgiving Day parades, local
. It also means braving some of the worst holiday traffic conditions of the year.
You’ve got enough on your plate this Thanksgiving without having to worry about traffic, too. So, Google Maps looked at Thanksgiving traffic conditions over the last two years for 21 cities across the U.S.
to find the most useful information to make your holiday trip a little easier.
Whether you’re traveling near or far, Google Maps’ traffic tips will help you navigate the roads like a pro, so you’ll be feasting on Turkey Day delights with friends and family in no time. Here are seven tips in pictures to guide you through the holiday:
1. Avoid traveling on Wednesday:
2. But if you must leave on Wednesday:
3. Good news for local travelers — Thanksgiving Day traffic is a breeze:
4. Travel back home on Sunday, not Saturday:
5. Expect to spend more time in traffic than average if you live in these three cities:
Philadelphia, Austin and Washington, D.C. saw the three biggest increases in traffic during Thanksgiving week.
6. Get these three items ahead of time:
Last-minute runs to the corner store can be unavoidable as you prep for the big day, but not all last minute trips are created equal.
7. Leave extra time for Christmas shopping:
Your biggest worry this Thanksgiving should be whether to go for the cranberry sauce or gravy. And with these traffic tips in hand, plus
real-time traffic info
provided by Google Maps on
, you’ll be spending less time in traffic and more time with the people you care about this Thanksgiving. Now that’s something to be thankful for!
Posted by Aaron Nelson, Google Maps Product Manager
Google Maps looked at 21 cities across the U.S. from the Monday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after Thanksgiving for both 2012 & 2013: Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington, D.C.
Explore U.S. landmarks in honor of Veterans Day
November 11, 2014
In 1919, after the World War I armistice, President Wilson proclaimed
a day dedicated to honor and remember the servicemen of the armed forces:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
Today, whether you recognize
, you can now celebrate servicemen and women by touring some significant
U.S. historical places
in Street View in Google Maps.
West Point Cemetery
and explore the historic burial ground of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Overlooking the Hudson River, some of the cemetery’s tombs date back to the American Revolutionary War. To walk further back in time, travel to the
Gettysburg National Military Park
in Pennsylvania, the site of the infamous 1863 Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.
West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY, USA
On the Gulf Coast of Texas, stand on the runway of the
, nicknamed "The Blue Ghost," an Essex-class aircraft carrier built during World War II for the United States Navy, and the
Battleship North Carolina
, the most highly decorated American battleship of World War II.
USS Lexington, Corpus Christi, TX, USA
You can also explore historical collections of U.S. leaders and military personnel, like the
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
West Point Museum
Museum of the Confederacy
. Here explore photos, uniforms and tokens from past events throughout American history.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, New York, USA
U.S. Highlights gallery
is our small way of thanking veterans for their service. We hope you’ll take a few minutes today to honor and and recognize servicemen and women both past and present.
Posted by Deanna Yick, Street View Program Manager
Google Street View
Google Maps: Your best accessory this season
November 5, 2014
Bold colors and textures are in—and Google Maps is on trend, with a slick new style to make traveling with Maps even easier. Over the next few days, when you open up Google Maps on your Android or iPhone, you’ll be greeted by bright colors and a fresh new design. This new look is all about creating surfaces and shadows that echo the real world; with Google Maps’ new material feel, layers and buttons come to life so you know just where to touch to get directions, recommendations and imagery.
Getting around with Google Maps is even easier with the new design
By tapping on a place’s info sheet at the bottom of your screen, you’ll send an info layer gliding up to the top, showing you photos, reviews, and more. And for the adventurous souls looking for a new place to dine or visit, you’ll see
more to Explore
at the bottom of your map.
Fluid transitions guide you through Google Maps
There’s more to this app than good looks—we also make it easier for you to get on with your day. Need to make a last-minute dinner reservation? You can now reserve a table right from the Google Maps app for restaurants found on OpenTable (U.S. only).
Make a restaurant reservation from Google Maps
On a cool winter day, a chilly walk or train ride may not always be the most appealing choice. Travelers
whether they should take an Uber or brave the frosty winds can now see estimates for Uber’s pickup time and price for their route in walking and transit directions in Google Maps. This option will appear if you have the Uber app installed, where available.
Wait time and price estimates for Google Maps’ Uber card
For Google Maps, giving you useful options and information is always in vogue. So as you’re traveling this holiday season, don’t forget to open up your Maps app for all the navigation help we have to offer—now with a fun new look.
Posted by Evelyn Kim, Google Maps UX Designer
Google Maps for Mobile
Explore the haunted corners of the world... if you dare
October 29, 2014
Something wicked this way comes
… Whether you’re a trio of
witches back from the dead
or just a trick-or-treater, chances are you’re hitting the streets (or riding a broom!) on Halloween night. For those looking for an extra fright, take a tour of spooky places from around the world on Google Maps.
Start in 19th century Paris. While cheery guests listen to the beautiful arias at the Opéra Garnier, a dreary lake lies beneath the streets. Floating above the silent water, a
lurks. Are your eyes playing tricks on you... or is that a cloaked figure looming in the shadows?
Opéra Garnier (Paris Opera), Paris, France
Standing at the steps of
in Victoria, BC, you might believe you’ve found the perfect home away from home. Think again… listen closely for the sounds of a piano playing softly throughout the house. The spirit of a ghastly pianist is said to linger in the corridors and windows.
Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, BC
If you’re feeling ill, the abandoned
in Taiwan is
the place to go. For years, passersby have sighted now-deceased patients, both young and old, in the treacherous fourth- and fifth-floor windows. To this day, people claim to hear wailing in the night from inside the hospital’s haunted walls.
Xinglin hospital, Tainan, Taiwan
Not all spooky stories are made up. For three decades, the
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary
was home to some 1,500 of the world’s most infamous prisoners. Surrounded by bone-chilling waters, “the Rock” was notorious as the toughest prison in America.
Alcatraz Island, California, USA
If these spooky spots whet your appetite for fear, get up close with some of the most frightful locations in Google Maps Gallery and find ghouls and goblins in
around the world. If you’re looking for a laugh instead of a scream, take a
through your local corn maze, find the perfect jack-o-lantern at your neighboring
, and scout the best
routes near you.
Now get your cauldrons bubbling and monsters mashing because after all,
this is Halloween
Posted by Susan Cadrecha, Google Maps Zombie Bride
Google Maps Gallery
Explore the world through Google Earth for Android with fast, accurate maps
October 22, 2014
Whether you’re sailing down the Mississippi River or trekking through the Swiss Alps, Google Earth can inspire your next adventure. To help power your digital travels,
Google Earth for Android
is getting an update over the next week—with an enhanced 3D experience, quicker updates to the map, and an easier way to view your KML files in Earth.
Starting today, you’ll see faster, smoother, and crisper transitions as you’re zooming into your dream destination in Google Earth. Thanks to a new 3D rendering technology—the first major 3D overhaul since Earth launched more than 10 years ago—sharper views of mountains and cities are just a virtual skydive away.
Built from scratch, our new 3D technology gives you sharper views in Google Earth for Android
As you’re flying around Paris or looking for things to do in Tokyo, you can rest assured knowing that the globe in your pocket will show you the freshest information, with Google Earth now getting the same updates as Google Maps. Roads and labels have gotten a visual refresh as well, making Earth’s styling easier on the eyes for you virtual explorers.
Roads and labels get a refresh in the newest version of Earth
And if you’ve created your own map for Google Earth—whether you’re a teacher preparing a history lesson, a researcher tracking changes in the environment, or just a geospatial enthusiast—you’ll now be able to open your KML files from Google Drive directly in the Earth app, so you can view it on the go.
Save a few clicks when viewing your KML files on the go
To discover the world with these updates in hand, head to the Play Store and download
Google Earth for Android
. Stay tuned for more 3D updates in the coming months!
Posted by Ashwin Limaye, Product Manager, Google Earth
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