Google announces innovations for Google Maps

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John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Google Maps, has announced innovations for Google Maps that offer a new perspective on search with Street View and Mapplets.

Available at maps.google.com, Street View and Mapplets further Google's commitment to provide users with maps and developers with tools for creating and sharing geographic content.

Street View lets users view and navigate within 360-degree street-level imagery of various cities in the United States. It provides users with a greater understanding of a location or area.

Street View imagery is available for maps of the San Francisco Bay area, New York, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami and will soon expand to other metropolitan areas.

By clicking on the "Street View" button in Google Maps, users can navigate through a street through panoramic imagery. They can virtually walk the streets of a city, check out a restaurant before arriving and zoom in on bus stops and street signs to make travel plans.

Google Mapplets is a tool for developers and consumers that let third-party developers create mini applications that can be displayed on Google Maps, much like Google Gadgets are displayed on iGoogle.

The Mapplets contain a variety of information, including housing listings, crime data and tools such as distance measurement.

Users can select from a variety of Google and third-party Mapplets to display on the Map, creating their own Mapplets directly on the Google Maps site. Users will still be able to use the built-in functionality of Google Maps, like local search and driving directions.

A number of Google partners, including WeatherBug, Booking.com and Platial, have already created Mapplets. This feature is available at maps.google.com/preview.

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