Google launches new tool to let U.S. businesses create Google Offers for Maps

Google announced today on its Google Commerce blog that it’s rolling out a new tool that will allow any business in the U.S. to create a Google Offer and display the promotions or coupons to user directly through Google Maps. Google first announced back in July that it was rolling out Google Offers to user searching for places on Google Maps for iOS and Android and on the across the web, but at the time only announced select retail partners. With Google’s updated tool rolling out over the next week all business in the U.S. can now easily create Offers that are displayed on Google Maps:

With this launch, your offer can reach customers on Google Maps when they are searching for places nearby or looking for local businesses like yours. Your business will be prominently displayed with a blue tag icon next to it, alerting customers to your offer.

Once a customer saves your offer, we’ll bring them to your door by sharing an offer reminder when they are near your store. We can help remind them when your offer is expiring too, through email and mobile alerts. Just create the offer; we’ll take care of the rest.

Google notes that businesses will “only pay when a customer saves your offer, and you keep the full value of the sales you make.” You can learn more on the Google Commerce blog here.

Foursquare opens up local ads to all small businesses

Foursquare is squarely moving into Google’s territory with the announcement today that it is officially opening up its local ad platform to all of the 1.5 million claimed businesses in the app. That means that no longer will only a select group of partners be able to offer “Promoted” listings within the app– something Foursquare has been testing in recent months– but now all small businesses will have the opportunity to place local ads.

The benefit over, say, Google’s ads platform for local businesses, is the ability for merchants to actually see if their ad leads to a real customer walking into their store:

Today, we’re opening Foursquare Ads to all small businesses around the world. We’re moving past the days when business owners have to figure out if a “like” or a “click” has any meaning in the real world; now they can tell if someone who saw their ad actually walks into their store. We built this to be simple and flexible, learning from our four years of data and relationships with over 1.5 million claimed businesses. Any merchant can monitor how many people have viewed their ad, how many have tapped on it, and how many actually came into their store. Merchants know what they’re paying for – real actions and real customers.

Business owners interested in creating ads on Foursquare can do so at foursquare.com/adsRead more

Google Maps adds directions for multiple destinations, upcoming events, & flight, hotel & restaurant reservations

Google announced today on its Google Maps blog that it’s rolling out a few new features for the new Google Maps preview based on feedback from users. Perhaps the most notable of the new features is the ability to get directions for routes with multiple destinations:

Whether you’re running weekend errands or planning a cross-country tour, you can plot multiple destinations for your trip with ease – now available for driving, walking and biking directions. Once you’ve chosen a starting point, click ‘+’ and add stops to your route by typing in the search box or clicking on the map… When you’re exploring a new city, find the best way to museums, historic squares, and other attractions by dragging and dropping your destinations in the order that works for you. And if you’re curious before you go, the Views carousel, located in the bottom right corner, is a great way to preview Street View, Photo Tours, and other imagery.

The update also brings flight, hotel and restaurant reservation data right into search within Maps much the same way that Google Search displays similar results from Gmail, Google Calendar and elsewhere. In addition, Maps will now being showing upcoming events: Read more

Google’s Street View fun continues with virtual visits to zoos & animal parks

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Google’s expanded Street View program today added coverage of a range of zoos and animal parks in North America, South America, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Spain, France, Belgium and the UK. This includes the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, home to more than 30 percent of the world’s Giant Pandas, reports the Google Maps blog.

If you enjoy watching wildlife, but find yourself stuck in the urban jungle, never fear. You can now use Google Maps and Street View to preview the must-see spots at zoos around the world before heading there in person, or take a virtual trip to some of the most famous zoos and animal parks, right from your living room.

The development adds to a diverse range of fascinating Street View tours offered by Google in recent times …  Read more

Google adds Waze’s real-time incident reporting to Maps on iOS & Android, integrates search/StreetView into Waze apps

Real-time-waze-reporting-google-mapsGoogle announced today on its Google Maps blog that it’s finally tapping into the talent and technology it picked up with its acquisition of Waze back in June to integrate real time incident reports from Waze into Google Maps. The new integration means that when Waze users report incidents for everything from accidents to road closures, Google Maps users on both iOS and Android will now be able to benefit:

Users of Google Maps for Mobile will now benefit from real time incident reports from Waze users. This means when Wazers report accidents, construction, road closures and more on Waze, the updates will also appear on the Google Maps app for Android and iOS.

The features will initially be limited to users in certain locations, including: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, UK and the US. In addition, as Google first hinted back in June, the company will also be integrating Google Search into the Waze apps on iOS and Android, while the Waze Map Editor now has access to Google Street View imagery: Read more

Google Maps rolls out ‘Views’, a collection of user submitted photo spheres & Street View imagery

Google today announced a new community-based website called “Google Maps Views” that will allow users to submit and browse 360 degree photo spheres created on Android devices supporting the feature. It will also feature a collection of panoramas from its Street View Gallery.

Once a users signs in and uploads photo spheres from Google+ or directly from their device, they will have a profile on the Views website that displays all of their content:

To upload 360º photo spheres, just sign into the Views site with your Google+ profile and click the blue camera button on the top right of the page. This will enable you to import your existing photo spheres from your Google+ photos. You can also upload 360º photo spheres to Views from the Gallery in Android by tapping “Share” and then selecting Google Maps.

Users can create the 360 degree photo spheres on many Android devices running Android 4.2 and up as well as, of course, Google’s own Nexus devices and others running stock Android. The Views website will also allow users to submit panoramas shot on DSLRs. Read more

Revamped Google Maps for iOS launches, supports iPad, indoor maps, enhanced navigation

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 6.33.53 PM

In line with last week’s expectations of an updated Google Maps app, Google, has begun rolling out version 2.0 of Google Maps for iOS today. Most notably, the new application includes support for the large touch screens found on the iPad and iPad mini.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 6.33.36 PM

Additionally, like with the recent update to the Android version, enhanced navigation with incident reports and live traffic updates are included.

Also new is an Explore function to browse popular places such as restaurants, shopping, playing, and sleeping. This feature is integrated with Zagat ratings and deals via Google Offers.

The 2.0 update also includes indoor mapping functionality for malls, transit stations, and airports, according to Google. The new update has begun rolling out to some countries in Asia, but is not yet available in the United States. In fact, Google Maps is currently unavailable to download in the App Store for many countries until this update is released.

Update: Some people have had success downloading the new version of Google Maps by deleting their current version and downloading it from iCloud. (Thanks @ITSFEST)

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Here’s a really cool Google Maps development that Google made sound dull

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On the same day that Google updated all its mapping products, it also demonstrated the gentle art of making a really cool piece of new technology appear deathly dull.

Today we’re announcing a new way for developers to visualize and interact with data hosted in Maps Engine: DynamicMapsEngineLayer. This class performs client-side rendering of vector data, allowing the developer to dynamically restyle the vector layer in response to user interactions like hover and click.

Sure, the blog entry is aimed at software developers, so can be forgiven its language, but the example they use to promote the feature seems more suited to a dusty geography textbook than an illustration of something that could really transform the way we use Google Maps. What it actually means is that you can mouse-over a map to really quickly and easily explore anything from tourist info to property ownership. Read on for more …

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Google announces Waze acquisition, plans to enhance Google Maps w/ traffic update features & integrate Google Search in Waze

waze_logo2The rumors were true: Google just officially confirmed in a blog post that it has acquired mapping company Waze with some big plans to integrate the Israel-based company’s traffic related features into Google Maps.

WazeGoogle confirmed in the announcement that it has acquired the company but didn’t provide any financial details related to the deal. Waze for now will continue to operate in Israel separate from the Google Maps team, but Google also has plans to integrate its search technology into Waze products.

We’ll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this app, to ensure they have what’s needed to grow and prosper.

As for what specific traffic features you might see come to Google Maps, Google’s Vice President of Geo Brian McClendon notes “The Waze community and its dedicated team have created a great source of timely road corrections and updates.”

Google had been rumored several times in recent weeks to be acquiring the company with the latest reports claiming the deal would be somewhere in the $1B range. Read more

Redesigned, more immersive Google Maps seemingly coming soon with Google+ integration

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The unofficial Google Operating System blog posts some screenshots and details of a supposed upgrade to the Google Maps website that is nearing launch.

The experience is redesigned and more immersive due to a greater focus on the map content instead of navigation buttons. The new map tiles also look similar to the interface included in Apple’s proprietary iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Maps software…

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Google fined in Germany for illegal wifi sniffing, but it’s pocket change

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Google not only escaped criminal prosecution in Germany after its Street View cars were found to be capturing private wifi traffic, but it has now pretty much walked away scott-free as the Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information fined it just €145,000 ($190,000).

The pointless fine (reported by Engadget) could probably be paid with the change found buried in the seats of the Streetview cars … Read more