Google mapped out an Arabian desert in Street View using camels

Liwa desert street view trekkor

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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Google acquires Jetpac city guide software, will discontinue service in September

Google has acquired Jetpac, a city guide application for iPhone, the app’s developers announced today (via The Next Web). The free app (and others by the Jetpac team) will be removed from the App Store in the coming days, and the service that powers it will be shut down on September 15th.

Google hasn’t said exactly what it plans to do with the company’s technology, which automatically scans users’ photos to detect local points of interest like coffee shops or “hipster hangouts.” The service featuerd data for over 6,000 cities, according to the App Store description.  It seems logical, however, that Google would attempt to integrate these features with Google Maps or a location-based Google Now feature.

You can grab the Jetpac app for free on the iTunes Store, though it won’t be very useful beyond its mid-September shutdown.

Google Maps update adds biking elevation info, new voice commands, more

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Google this afternoon updated its Maps app on Android to version 8.2 with a plethora of new features, enhancements, and changes. The biggest changes come to the biking routes that Maps offers. With this update, biking routes now show elevation, including the ability to compare the elevations for various routes. This, of course, means that you can now easily tell which bike routes will be the easiest on your legs. This feature is listed as beta for now, though.

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Google Maps now lets you measure and calculate the distance between multiple points

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Google recently updated its desktop version of Maps with a new feature that lets users measure the distance between two or more points on the map. To toggle this option, right-click on a starting point on the map and select “Measure distance,” and then choose a destination to see the distance between the two points.

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Google spruces up Flight Search, asks travelers if they’re ‘feeling lucky?’

Explore blog post image 2

Back in 2012, Google launched an experimental feature called Explore Flights that was aimed at frugal travelers looking to visit different destinations within a specific region. Still up and running flying, Mountain View will be adding some of the tool’s best offerings to Flight Search, along with a few additional new features.

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Google Maps adds Street View support for Brazilian stadiums, tourist attractions ahead of World Cup

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 8.02.12 AM

The 2014 World Cup is set to kick off next week in Brazil, and Google seems to be excited about the event. Earlier this week the company updated the Chromecast with support for WatchESPN streaming, meaning that all 64 World Cup games will be able to be streamed to the device. Now, in a post on the Lat Long blog, Google has announced some new features for Maps exclusively for the World Cup. Read more

Google Maps now serving up driving directions in North Korea

North-Korea-Maps

North Korea may not have a reputation for being a warm and friendly place, but if you ever managed to get your Dennis Rodman on and visit the country, it would be helpful to know your way around. Thankfully driving directions for select areas in North Korea are now available from Google Maps. Last year, with the help of its Google Maps Maker tool, Mountain View managed to scale its efforts to survey North Korea’s landscape. As a result, more local driving directions are starting to surface.

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Google Maps’ ‘quick facts’ wants to be your virtual tour guide

Quick Facts

Google Maps has just been blessed with a nifty new feature that inserts info cards loaded with snippets of info from Mountain View’s Knowledge Graph. A pop-out window called “quick facts” spews out details about popular tourist attractions from around the word, including places like the temples of Angkor. Google’s new virtual tour guide is currently limited to Maps’ desktop software, however we expect the outfit’s mobile app to catch up soon. Too bad Clark Griswold didn’t have access to this type of tech while on his way to Wally World.

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Google kicks off April Fools’ Day w/ Pokemon Master job listing & mini-game in Maps

It looks like Google’s usual April Fools festivities have just kicked off as we officially roll into April 1st in Japan. Google’s first gag is the recruiting video above looking for a qualified “Pokemon Master” for the Google Maps team and comes alongside a mini-game easter egg in the Google Maps app for iOS and Android.

While the video above showing some type of augmented reality style Pokemon game integrated with Google Maps is almost certainly just for a bit of April Fools fun, an easter egg already live in the Google Maps app on iOS and Android actually lets users play a Pokemon mini-game:

As you can see in the screenshots above, small Pokemon characters are appearing scattered throughout the Google Maps app. You can tap the characters to catch them and also a view a detailed Pokedex that shows artwork, character details, and the Pokemon you still have to catch.

Those that catch all the Pokemon between now and April 2nd will go on to Google for a final challenge to crown the true Pokemon Master for the Google Maps team. To turn on the mini-game, tap the search bar in the Google Maps app followed by “Press Start.”  Read more