Mapping Google’s Latest Direction

Google’s mission of helping you find every scrap of information you need in life is now spread across maps.

Although Google Maps is still a beta project like its notable cousins, Google News, Froogle and Google Groups, the latest offering from the search engine’s Google Labs division is already offering robust map searches.

The online mapping application provides directions and location information much like similar applications have for some time from search engine competitor Yahoo . Both Yahoo! and Google Maps appear to be using the same underlying maps from map vendor Navteq.

The implementation of the map technology, however, is a bit different. For example, Google Maps provides slider navigation that allows users to “slide zoom” in and out of maps, compared to Yahoo! maps that require a user to click + or – in order to zoom in or out on the map. The map itself can also be dragged to view locations not immediately viewable on the screen, allowing the user to more easily navigate according to Google.

As with Yahoo! Maps, the application is integrated with local search results to enable users to more easily search and get to local venues of interest. Search results in Google Maps can be obtained with simple queries like typing “great sushi in New York” which will yield relevant results with map links to directions on how to get your big apple raw fish fix.

Driving directions that provide point to point directions are also part of Google Maps offering, again much the same as they are in Yahoo! Maps. But with Google Maps, you get a floating bubble with a magnified view of the area mentioned in the directions to visually guide you along the map.

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