Google and Kia Motors announce deal to bring Google Maps & Places to new vehicles

Kia-UVO-GoogleMaps

Kia Motors is working with Google to bring Google Maps and Google Places integration to new vehicles via an updated version of its UVO eServices telematics system. Kia said in a press release today that it would work with Google to integrate Maps and Services for “driving directions and locate Points of Interest (POIs) in a seamless and organic manner.” The new integration will land in the 2014 Sorento CUV and go on sale in the first half of this year, but it will presumably hit all-new vehicles that utilize Kia’s built-in UVO eServices. Kia will also provide Maps and Places features from its UVO smartphone app:

Available with the 2014 Sorento CUV, the new Google-powered UVO system will serve Kia owners whether they are in their cars or away from them. Enabled by the Send2Car feature, Kia owners can send a POI or destination to their car directly from the Google Maps via their SmartphoneUVO app. From within the car, Kia owners will benefit from Google Places, which will provide POI and destination resources such as a dealership location, and Google Maps, which will provide directions to virtually anywhere and everywhere a car can travel. Read more

Google Maps adds Street View imagery for 150 university campuses, expands turn-by-turn, biking directions, & Map Maker globally

Today on the Official Google Blog, VP of Google Maps and Earth Brian McClendon announced Google is expanding Google Maps to new locations across the globe with the addition of new turn-by-turn navigation with traffic condition data, biking directions, as well as StreetView and Map Maker imagery. The first big addition goes to a number of towns across indian cities such as Bangalore and Delhi:

First, we’re expanding Google Maps Navigation (Beta) with voice guided, turn-by-turn directions in thousands of towns across India. Navigation is one of the most frequently requested features in this region and can be especially helpful when driving in densely populated cities like Delhi or Bangalore. We’re also adding live traffic conditions for major roads with estimated travel times to help you save time and to reduce stress on the road.

New Zealanders are also getting new access within Google Maps with the roll out of both Map Maker and Biking directions in the region. However, perhaps the biggest update today comes with new Street View imagery being released this afternoon for over 150 new university campuses around the world. Google noted a few of the more recognizable additions including UCLA and Royce Hall at the University of California in the U.S, Sophia University in Japan, Pembroke College in the U.K, and McGill University in Quebec.
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Google rolls out new panoramic Street View imagery of Brazil and pre-hispanic Mexican cities

Google announced today on the Lat Long Blog that it added even more Street View imagery to Google Maps; this time for Brazil and pre-hispanic Mexican cities. While there was already Street View imagery available for the locations, the latest additions include panoramic imagery for 70+ cities throughout Brazil including “colonial cities like Fortaleza, architecturally compelling cities like Brasilia and coastal landmarks like Recife, Natal and Salvador.”

You can even virtually travel to the west side of Brazil and visit Foz de Iguaçu, or if you’re planning an upcoming trip, preview the the area around your hotel as well as nearby shopping malls, historic monuments, restaurants and more. With so many upcoming events, like the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, we’re excited to share the riches of Brazil’s cities not only with tourists from around the world, but also with locals who might want to visit a city, neighborhood or landmark they’ve not yet experienced.

Also included in today’s update is 30 Mesoamerican archaeological areas in Mexico, including the 1,100-year-old Kukulkan’s Temple pyramid, and other sites such as Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza, and Tulum.

Google Maps for Android update adds over 1M public transit schedules, revamped UI [Photos]

Google — Left: Mobile map with all modes of public transit shown; Right: Transit Lines layer in Subway mode

Google Maps now offers schedules for over 1 million public transportation stops in nearly 500 cities worldwide, while its Android counterpart updated today to make the abundance of new transit data more convenient.

Christopher Van Der Westhuizen, a Google Maps software engineer, announced version 6.10 of the Google Maps for Android app on the Official Google Blog:

We’ve made some changes to the Transit Lines layer, so that you can select a specific mode of public transportation (train, bus, tram or subway) to display on the mobile map, hiding the other modes. This is helpful in areas where there is a tight concentration of several types of public transit.

Google offers a list of supported cities at its Transit page.

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Google celebrates Landsat’s 40th birthday, makes available timelapse videos of the Earth’s surface

Google just took to its official Lat Long blog to wish Landsat a “Happy 40th Birthday” and make its surface imagery live for the entire world to enjoy.

The revered satellite program essentially collects continuous images of the Earth to help smart folks, like scientists and researchers, make knowledgeable decisions on the economy and environment. Google Earth Engine has made Landsat’s data available to such experts anywhere in the world, but now it wants to give the public access.

Googler Eric Nguyen explained:

  • We’re working with the USGS and Carnegie Mellon University, to make parts of this enormous collection of imagery available to the public in timelapse videos of the Earth’s surface. With them you can travel through time, from 1999-2011, to see the transformation of our planet. Whether it’s deforestation in the Amazon, urban growth in Las Vegas or the difference in snow coverage between the seasons.
  • [...] In 2008, the USGS opened access to the entire Landsat archive for free. Google Earth Engine makes it possible for this data to be accessed and used by scientists and others no matter where they are in the world.

A highlighted timelapse video is below:

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Sustrans and Google Maps launch cycling routes in UK [Video]

Sustrans, a British charity promoting sustainable transport, just announced that it partnered with Google to bring cycling routes to United Kingdom-based Google Maps users.

Greener-minded Americans are quite familiar with the biking icon and its bevy of alternative transit routes, but now U.K. fans of the popular mapping app can plan their cycling trips, navigate bike lanes, and time routes on both smartphones and computers. For those unfamiliar, Google Maps offers worldwide mapping technology, directions and local business information to mobile and desktop users by way of satellite and street-level imagery and user-contributed content.

“We know how popular cycling is in London and the rest of the UK, especially ahead of a busy summer, which is why we are thrilled to bring cycling directions to Google Maps. Thanks to Sustrans, we now have thousands of miles of trails and routes, as well as bike lanes and recommended streets for cities across the country,” said Google UK Geospatial Technologist Ed Parsons.

“We’ll continue to add new trail information and urge commuters to swap their car for a bike as they can now find a convenient route that makes use of dedicated bike tracks and avoid hills whenever possible, Parsons added.

The new feature goes live today, and Sustrans is celebrating the launch with its own video, called “Lucy’s Cycling Treasure Hunt” (above).

The press release is below.

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Google Maps for Android updated with Offers, indoor walking directions and 360-degree panoramic views

Google just updated its Maps for Android app to version 6.7 by adding a number of notable new features like integration of Google offers, indoor walking directions, and new 360-degree Street View-like panoramic views for the insides of certain buildings.

As for Google Offers integration, Google will launch the feature only in the United States and provide access to the deals through a new “Offers” option within the app’s “Maps” drop-down menu. The app will also let you opt-in to receive notifications for nearby deals. The feature is limited to the Android app, but we are likely to see Offers integration across all Google Maps products in the near future.

Another new feature rolling out to both U.S. and Japanese users is the ability to get indoor walking directions, but this is in addition to the indoor floor plans launched earlier this year in version 6.0 and will only rollout to select buildings initially.

Taking advantage of its Street View technology, Google is introducing 360-degree panoramic views in version 6.7. To access the feature, Google noted to keep an eye out for the “‘See Inside’ section on the Place page of select businesses.”

Google Maps 6.7 for Android is already available to download from Google Play here.

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Wikipedia dumps Google Maps for OpenStreetMap, marks industry trend toward alternative service

OpenStreetMap on "Wikipedia for Android" app

Wikipedia updated its Android and iOS apps today, but the noteworthy feature is that the online encyclopedia-like website dumped Google Maps for OpenStreetMap, which marks a growing trend for technology firms preferring an alternative mapping solution.

The company just announced its Android counterpart witnessed 2.25 million installs in less than two months since its birth, while netting over 23 million Wikipedia page views per month. Despite the success with Google’s mobile OS, Wikipedia updated its apps with Open StreetMap data in favor of the service’s “nearby view” feature.

Wikipedia further explained the reasoning behind the switch:

Previous versions of our application used Google Maps for the nearby view. This has now been replaced with OpenStreetMaps – an open and free source of Map Data that has been referred to as ‘Wikipedia for Maps.’ This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications. OpenStreetMaps is used in both iOS and Android, thanks to the amazing Leaflet.js library. We are currently using Mapquest’s map tiles for our application, but plan on switching to our own tile servers in the near future.

In the last couple of months alone, both Apple and Foursquare also shifted to OpenStreetMap. It is worth mentioning that Yahoo implemented OpenStreetMap data within Flickr in 2009 for a plethora of worldwide cities, such as Baghdad, Beijing, Kabul, Santiago, Sydney, and Tokyo.

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Google Maps upgrade now helps non-highway drivers avoid traffic jams

Google announced today that its live traffic pattern service will now include roads, not just highways.

“Starting today, if you’re planning a trip for which you anticipate traffic, you can find out what typical traffic is like on these arterial roads, rather than just on highways,” explained Google Maps Software Engineer Szabolcs Payrits on the official Google Lat-Long blog. 

Drivers can type their starting and ending points into Google Maps to get directions, but they must enable the traffic layer in the upper right-hand corner, and then click “change” in in the legend to view Typical Traffic on regular roads.

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Google’s Street View and Maps face criticism throughout Asia, captures beauty of Thailand and Amazon

Google launched its Street View galleries this past week for Amazon and Thailand without a hiccup, but the Internet giant was not-so lucky elsewhere, as it has faced many obstacles over its mapping applications throughout the globe—especially in Asia.

Reuters published a lengthy reported today detailing how Google often meets hurdles worldwide, such as the recent debacle on its privacy policy, and it fully described the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company’s tenacious attempts to chart the streets and landscapes of Asia while consistently meeting privacy, political, and cultural barriers.

For those that live under a rock: Google Street View is a service highlighted in Google Maps and Google Earth that offers panoramic views of streets. It launched in 2007 in the United States and has expanded to many cities and rural areas worldwide.

A round up of Asia’s criticisms is below.

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iOS 5 will continue to use Google mapping data

With Apple’s purchase of two mapping companies over the last couple of years - Poly9 and Placebase - many have speculated that iOS 5 will finally be the iOS release where Apple moves from a Google Maps backend to an Apple backend. Multiple job postings on Apple’s official site backed up this speculation and even Apple promised some under-the-hood maps tweeks for their next-generation iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch operating system.

Now, sources have told 9to5Google that although Apple is working to improve the iOS Maps application, iOS 5 will not bring an Apple developed maps service and Google Maps is still in. Besides Apple’s purchase of both Placebase and Poly9, some speculated that Apple is building their own maps service to either compete with Google or step away from their input into iOS.

Apple began the process of distancing themselves from Google when former Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned over “conflict of interest.” Apple has also added Microsoft’s Bing as a Safari search option and will be competing with Google head-to-head with their upcoming cloud-based music service. Those who enjoy Google Maps should not fear iOS 5, though, and hopefully Apple is working to implement turn-by-turn directions or something else to improve their maps application without changing the backend. Read more