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Google My Maps is Your Maps

Google today launched a new mapping feature that lets anyone be a cartographer. Well, almost.

My Maps allows users to mark locations on a map from a library of icons, draw lines and shapes to highlight paths and areas, and add text, photos, or YouTube/Google videos. Users can also add HTML to their maps, a Google spokeswoman told internetnews.com.

Google Maps product manager Jessica Lee told internetnews.com the goal for My Maps was to make Google Maps into a platform for "creating, publishing and finding" geographic content. She said the process started with the Maps API that Google opened last year, which she said is popular but limited to developers.

When finished, map creators can list their maps as public or private. Public maps will be available in Google's local search index within two to six weeks. Local search results will also now return KML files previously created for Google Earth.

Google My Maps
Click on the graphic for My Maps in action

Maps created with the new feature will also be automatically saved as KML files and entered into Google Earth's KML search index.

My Maps is supposed to make it easier for non-developers to contribute content they are "passionate about," Lee continued.

"People are really excited about their hobbies and the thing is, even if we threw all of Google's resources at this problem, we would never be able to create the same depth and breadth and quality of map data that the millions of knowledgeable users out there combined could create," Lee said.

JupiterResearch Analyst Sapna Satagopan told internetnews.com that My Maps will help Google turn Google Maps into a frequently browsed product where advertisers want to be.

She said the biggest difficulty local search providers have had in convincing mom-and-pop local vendors to advertise is a general lack of browsing traffic on their sites. But Satagopan said allowing consumers to create content with My Maps should drive enough traffic for Google to convince the locals.