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You guys know that we have this weird love-hate relationship with Google Earth and Google Maps, which have basically become de facto travel technology because of all the insane places that Google has photographed. For a small taste of our ambivalence, see here and here for discussions regarding the phrase "now you can travel without ever leaving the comfort of your home." Has a douchier thing ever been said, anywhere? Travel shouldand in a very precise sense, just isabout leaving your home.
That said, there are a couple of places we don't see ourselves traveling to. If Google wants to photograph those and dump them into Earth or Maps, we'll happily indulge ourselves for a few hours (read: days). Cue this news that Google Street View has just added shots of Namie, a city that used to house 21,000 residents but is right in the center of the Japanese nuclear zone created by the earthquake plus tsunami two years ago that destroyed the Fukushima plant.
Google Maps / Travel Technology / Winter Travel / Active Travel / Android / iOS / Skiing / Ski Travel / → All Tags
In case you missed it we’re in the middle of the winter, and pretty much everyone has been hit with the snow—especially those in the northeast. It’s definitely time to take a break from the shoveling and plowing, and make your way onto the slopes. Skiing down the mountain is way better than playing with the snow in your driveway, and now Google is even here to help you find your way.
Adding to their mapping empire, Google just recently revealed that they’ve got the scoop on a whole bunch of ski resorts. Their latest addition boosts their offerings by another 38, as they add to their collection of ski resorts and mountains across the United States and Canada. Different lines indicate lifts, trails, difficulty, and even the path to the best hot toddy by the fire. Okay—maybe not that last part, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that was buried in there somewhere.
We've long been worried about how the futuristic technology being built into Google Maps and Google Earth was pushing people to unironically say douchey things like 'now you can travel without leaving your house!' The problem isn't just that people are saying those things, though that's a problem too. It's that when you look at the direction technology is heading, those people might not be totally wrong.
Just to be clear, as travel junkies who like travel junkiism, we're not totally comfortable with the situation. But of course, we don't get a vote.
Travel Tech / Apple / Maps / Google Maps / Apple Maps / iPhone / iPad / Technology / Videos / → All Tags
Another day, another slew of inaccuracies discovered in iOS 6 Maps. The app, which comes new with the software update on iPads and iPhones but deletes Google Maps, is so crazy bad that it's become the butt of late night comedian monologue jokes, even spawning a particularly hilarious mocking Tumblr.
And it's not just getting driving directions wrong or putting a park where there's actually a parking lot. iOS 6 Maps has managed to make the world appear to be melting in 3D view, reverted some cities to their occupied names from World War II and, well...they're just generally confused about Australia (examples here & here).
Last week, social photo-sharing network Instagram released Version 3 of their crazy popular app, rife with new features and improved functionality. One such addition is the "Photo Map," which automates populates a Google Map with the images you have taken and geo-tagged. This means that, last week, your Instagram newsfeed liked look like a listing of who's adding how many photo to where on their map.
Instantly the traveler bragging and jealousy began. "Who in my network has the most diverse Photo Map?" "Who has the least?" Poor newcomers to Instagram probably felt more than a little miffed to view their maps, sans all the fun locations they'd hit earlier in the year and shared prior to becoming wrapped up in the addictive app.
Google just wrapped up a live press conference announcing a bunch of Google Maps upgrades. The invite hit people's inboxes last Friday, promising that the Mountain View tech company would unveil features taking Maps to "the next dimension." Summaries are beginning to hit the web, and you can follow what happened from minute one by scrolling to the bottom of the CNet liveblog and reading up.
Originally there was some debate over whether the "next dimension" hint meant Maps was going 3D or getting a timeline. At the very least the 3D rumors were accurate. Google Earth project manager Peter Birch explained that technology has only just recently gotten good enough to make realistic 3D maps, with programmers now using "automated technology to extract 3D from aerial images" and then employing stereophotogrammetrywhich Wikipedia describes as a "sophisticated technique...[for] estimating the three-dimensional coordinates of points on an object"to reconstruct full 3D models of cities. Even the trees are in 3D.
The standard recipe for a Google Maps mashup is fairly straight-forward. You find a list of where things are, you code the locations appropriately, and then you put everything on a map. Even though the process is a little bit paint-by-numbers, it can still lead to some very interesting and even mildly addictive results. The Google Incident Maps mashup is one of the better examples in that regard, and the much older Celebrity Houses mashup is an even more basic template.
But if you mix in just a little more programming magicand you get really creative about what how you grab and package the data - you can do some pretty fascinating stuff. The developers at the Estonian design firm Bluemoon built a script to scrape Panoramio, which is a photo sharing site, and to extract all of the geo-locations from the uploaded photos. Then they created a heatmap based on where photos were taken. The result is this mashup, which according to the project homepage is a global map color-coded "by level of touristiness."
Videos / Comedy Travel / Maps / Google Maps / Travel Tech / → All Tags
How do you sightsee, or even find your way when you're a bit lost in a city? Paper maps are so several years ago, so naturally you're going to pull out that phone and fire up GPS. And, naturally, it doesn't always load or pinpoint perfectly.
Luckily Deutsche Welle's TV news show Euromaxx has introduced a character who silently parodies these little hiccups of modern life, and his name is Max X..
Enjoy the little video abovea little laugh to start your weekand you can find more on Max X's YouTube channel here. We discovered Max X. while watching too much hotel TV, and hint that another one coming soon to the internet touches on the issue of taking photos of yourself in front of landmarks.
[VIdeo: Deutsche Welle/ Euromaxx]
Did you know? Google Maps has just expanded their Street View capabilities to Thailand! A partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand brings 360-degree street views to Bangkok, plus the tourist-favorite destination of Phuket and Chiang Mai. Right now it's just of the roads, but Google's trike bike will be going offroad to capture more of the sites, which are now dry of the floodwater that engulfed the country last fall. Check out the highlights right here.
Did you know? Google Maps is even taking to the rails, adding Swiss train routes to their Streetview. It's impossibly breathtaking in some places, and remember that you're still sitting at home or at work, viewing these panoramas. Imagine actually being there. To check out the highlights, go here.
And! Did you know? All of the best views, landmarks and scenic roads so far captured by Streetview are easily browsed thanks to a collection of galleries on Google Maps itself. UNESCO sites! The Amazon! Famous businesses! Visit the gallery here.
[Photo: Google Maps]
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These "what will they think of next" posts about Google Maps are getting more and more frequentand more and more easy. We did a quick roundup at the end of last year, in the context of Google's airport maps. Since then they've added a bunch of useful featurescataloged hereand they've even begun inserting timestamps to Street View images. Helpful!
But there's an entire other part of Google Maps and Google Earth, which is the part where the images are just neat. There's enough material out there for entire galleries of wholly unintentional beautiful, weird, and even elegant photos (at least unintentional from Google's point of view; some of them were staged; hilariously). Not content with leaving things to chance, though, Google engineers have stepped up and mapped one of the world's most gorgeous areas.
There are a lot of people doing a lot of direct technological innovation with Google Maps. As a matter of strict "what are they adding to the service," Google engineers have recently loaded on maps of airports and even maps of malls and maps of the London Underground.
People who don't work for Google are also innovating with the application, including adding it as a built-in feature in new travel apps apps.
Then there's this other group of peoplefor the sake of convenience, let's call them hipsterswho are finding uses for Google Maps that are a little more artsy. 9-Eyes.com is a collection of weird, wonderful, strange, and occasionally NSFW images. The site is a project of Montreal artist Jon Rafman (Flickr; Twitter; Facebook; see the kind of comprehensive coverage you get here at Jaunted?). There are other projects linked from his main page, including this one titled "Kool-Aid Man in Second Life." It's exactly what it sounds like.
We never have enough time or space to get to all the Google Travel news that we'd like. A few weeks ago we talked about their new airport maps, and a little before that we did an introduction to their burgeoning flight search service. Unfortunately Google Flight Search got dragged down by how the airline industry does business, and it has remained unimpressive.
On the other side of the success spectrum, though, developers and programmers expanded Google Earth to include gamesa move that involved airlines and has implications for social mediaand an MIT student playing around with Google Maps made a de facto travel itinerary checker.
But this post isn't about any of those stories. This post is about deep, abiding, biting, bitter jealousy.