Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Google Maps Gets Serious Upgrades with Street View and GPS

What's it look like in person?

Google has just this morning launched the Street View feature on Google Maps for most of the Bay Area, Las Vegas and New York. This announcement, made at the Where 2.0 Conference in San Jose, is an incredible step forward, and from the few minutes I've spent playing with it, I can attest that the interface is smooth, intuitive and ridiculously cool.

This added functionality is a giant step forward for Google Maps' usefulness, and another glimpse into Google's 'master plan', where even the most minute pieces of information are cataloged and available online. Intangible and insignificant data like a neighborhood's 'feel' are now accessible through a browser. This takes the well-intentioned but poorly-executed goals of the late A9 and does them correctly.

I've just used Street View to check out my neighborhood, and I've just peered into my bathroom window to count the number of bottles on the windowsill. This level of data, as well as license plate numbers and images of pedestrians, will likely raise the ire of many with privacy concerns. But I'm just giddy about the technology. This kind of data certainly wasn't available before this morning...
Three bottles on the shelf.
Although not entirely within the scope of this greater blog, this announcement is relevant to my earlier treatise on the development of Google Maps into a more functional and location-based service.

Additionally, GPS-enabled Google Maps services have been announced for the Blackberry 8800.

Google Maps data has been available on mobile devices for awhile now, but accessing it has been a bit time-intensive, because the user has, until now, been required to determine their location and then enter it into the device. Now the obvious link between Google Maps and GPS data, provided by newer handsets, has been made. This is an expected but laudable development, and one step closer to the location-based social-networking solution I wrote about earlier. The open-API possibilities for further development of mobile applications is now staggering.


Asa said...

You seem to have implied that you're not concerned by the privacy concerns this raises based on your statement that you're "just giddy about the technology". If my understanding of your statement is correct then why did you blur your screenshot? If you took the time to blur your screenshot before posting, you obviously are concerned about the privacy issues this raises.

Brad Thompson said...

I'm not concerned with the data being 'out there' and accessible, because I think the world is a better place when we have more and more information at our fingertips. I blurred the specific location of my house because I didn't want to spoon-feed my own personal data to the world. We can all be found and tracked and stalked by someone with a little determination; that's just the truth of the modern world. I'm not trying to opt out of that or hide myself, but I also don't see it as hypocritical to make an effort not to stand out and be any easier to track than everybody else.
But you raise a good point that could become an interesting discussion. Where should the lines be drawn? Is Street View a transgression already?

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