Google Maps for Android updated to version 9.4 w/ support for Local Guides

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Google today has started rolling out an update to its Maps app on Android that bumps it to version 9.4. Most notably, the update adds integration with Google’s new Local Guides service, which it originally introduced back in January. Previously called City Experts, Local Guides is the company’s efforts to get users to review local businesses and share them with others.

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Opinion: Can Google woo businesses while seemingly suffering from ‘Product ADD’?

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Two of the biggest tech companies in the world–Google and Apple–couldn’t be more different in their philosophies. Apple has always believed in doing a very few things very well, famously saying no to a thousand things for every time it says yes. Google, in contrast, has tried to do– well, almost everything, including things well in the realms of science fiction.

Steve Jobs and Larry Page spoke about this difference shortly before Jobs died, with the Apple co-founder urging Page to “figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up.” Jobs expressed the view that, without focus, Google was in danger of turning into the next Microsoft, creating a large number of ok products but none of them with any wow factor …  Read more

Google relaunches ‘City Experts’ program as ‘Local Guides,’ makes it more community friendly

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Google has today relaunched its review program previously called City Experts as Local Guides, and hopes to engage the community and get more people involved through what looks to be some much more friendly branding and fun new features. While Google previously touted the “exclusive benefits” you could receive through the program and required “50 high-quality reviews” for entry, the new program instead suggests that you “help others and support businesses” and encourages you to “be yourself.”

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Google introduces ability to embed Street View images and Photospheres

Google, in a post on the Geo Developers Blog, today announced the ability for website owners to embed Street View panoramas and Photospheres within their site using an HTML snippet. Google launched this feature for Maps last year, but only today did it add support for Street View and public Photospheres.

Today, we added the ability to easily embed the Street View and Photo Sphere images you find in Google Maps and we’re also enabling the same capabilities programmatically in the Google Maps Embed API. These embeds use the new imagery viewer technology that powers Street View in the new Google Maps.

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Google Maps for Android updated with a fresh new Material Design layout, Uber and OpenTable integration

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Google announced a new update for its Google Maps apps for Android and iOS today that adds a fresh new Material Design layout focusing on bright colors and real world surfaces and shadows. The software’s refreshed interface is set to roll out over the next few days, with new features like dinner reservations from OpenTable (US only) and enhanced information cards with photos and reviews of popular attractions near your location.

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Google mapped out an Arabian desert in Street View using camels

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No, that’s not where Apple Maps will take you when you ask for directions to Starbucks, but close! It’s the Liwa Desert in the United Arab Emirates, and Google Maps has captured the site in detail for exploring through Street View thanks in part to camels:

To bring this stunning desert to Street View, we fashioned the Trekker to rest on a camel, which gathered imagery as it walked. Using camels for the collection allowed us to collect authentic imagery and minimize our disruption of this fragile environment.

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European Union tells Google combining user data across services without opt-out is illegal

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Google has come under fire from European Union officials on a number of fronts already. It’s been accused of unfair search results, been criticized for the way it has implemented the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling and asked to stop describing apps which offer in-app purchases as ‘free.’

Reuters now reports that the EU believes Google is breaking the law in combining user data across unrelated services like Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps without offering users an opt-out, and the way in which it has consolidated 60 separate privacy policies into one …  Read more

Google Street View now making stops in Ancient Egypt

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Street View is much more than a tool for taking an early look at the local scenery of an upcoming road trip, it’s now an easy and affordable way to see parts of the world that were once limited to a privileged group of jetsetters. Today Google announced the addition of a grand new virtual tour that lets you visit some of the biggest monuments of Ancient Egypt from the comfort of your computer.

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Google Maps and Bungie team up to promote upcoming ‘Destiny’ console game

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The next big probably-hit from the famed game studio behind Halo is about to be released, and to help promote it Bungie has teamed up with Google Maps to create a virtual world built to resemble that of the one in-game. It’s called Destiny Planet View, and you’ll find the way you navigate the first person shooter’s worlds within the new website to be very familiar.

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HERE offline map app arrives on Android for the first time, initially on Samsung Galaxy phones only

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HERE, the competitor to Google Maps initially available only on Windows Phone, has arrived on Android for the first time. Initially, the beta version of the Android app will be limited to Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

The main claim to fame of the app is that it offers the ability to download entire regions or countries for offline use, in contrast to Google Maps which only allows you to cache areas you have viewed while online. HERE maps currently cover around 200 countries, though turn-by-turn directions are so far limited to about half of these …  Read more