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Google Maps Ventures into the Final Frontier: Airports

November 30, 2011 at 3:20 PM | by | ()

Having more or less mapped the world's roadways—up to and including getting the security hyper-conscious Israelis to let their guards down—the Google Maps kids have taken to sending their cars and tricycles to increasingly esoteric destinations.

They've mapped bike routes and jungle trails, which are natural extensions of roadway mapping, but they've also extended their maps into our beloved San Diego Zoo and the insides of Japanese businesses—neither of which are particularly intuitive additions.

One area into which Google had yet to expand was the inside of airports. The oversight was particularly notable because, in sharp contrast, Microsoft's Bing search engine had added airport maps a few months ago. Bing's maps launched with support for 42 national airports, and included locations for restaurants, ATMs, ticket counters, restrooms, and so on. The implementation was not only pretty slick, but it was something that Google Maps just didn't have. So guess what Google just announced as the newest feature for Google Maps.

Google's new maps actually include both airports and shopping malls, and will probably be expanded to other shopping centers sooner rather than later. Stores like Macy's and IKEA are already online and Google is asking stores to do the work for them by submitting floor plans. The service is meant to become a platform for Google Wallet and Google Places, with the floorplans tying together the "here's where it is" aspect of Places with the "here's how you pay for it" aspect of Wallet.

Since so much of the larger plan involves mobile, it's no surprise that Google's map expansions are only available on Android-powered tablets and phones right now. People are guessing that the company wants to "deepen people's attachment" to their Android phones by allowing Google to pitch location-based ads. The company itself isn't explaining why they actually made that decision, but that's the theory. We suppose it's better than "they were just lazy."

[Photo: The Google Map 6.0 view of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport / Credit: Google / Via: LAT]

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