Google Maps, at maps.google.com, is an online mapping by Google, the world’s largest search engine company. It fills a critical niche in Google’s portfolio of online properties, allowing Google to extend its searches into maps, as well as incorporate location data in its searches.
Google Map’s chief competitor is Mapquest, which was started before Google’s service. However, most analysts regard Google’s offering as superior, as Google has leapfrogged over Mapquest in both technology and data. Firstly, Google Maps uses higher resolution satellite imagery compared to Mapquest. Satellite map overlays in in Google Maps is provided by the GeoEye-1 satellite. The GeoEye-1 satellite is the highest resolution remote imaging satellite in civilian use, and was launched into space with Google’s brand on its chasis. Secondly, the search functionality in Google Maps is also more tolerant to formatting errors and partial addresses. You can often just cut and paste an address you found on the web into Google Maps, and it’ll often give you a correct location, whereas Mapquest just chokes on the wrong address.
What can you do at Google Maps?
You can search for an address, and get a satellite or map view of the location. In satellite view, you can see the actual landscape, including trees, buildings and roads. In the map view, you get a clear view of all the road names without the scenery getting in the way. You can zoom in and out. In addition, if you download the Google Earth plugin, you can view the 3D imagery associated with that location. You can also access Google Street View from the plugin, and view panoramic street views from various positions along the street. This way, you get an idea of what the buildings in the area look like from the street view, and hence would know where to stop when driving to that location.
You can also get driving directions between two locations. Simply click on the “Get Directions” link below the search box, and then enter the two locations. The site can provide driving directions contiguously within the entire North America continent, as well as in other countries. It also provides an estimate of the driving distance and time.
You can search for local traffic conditions in many locations. Simply search for that location, and then click on the Traffic link within the map. Only the traffic conditions of the major roads will be displayed.
You can search for businesses near a certain location. For example, if you first search for a location, and then search for pizza in the search box, you will get a listing of all the pizzerias in the region. This works best if you have a Google Maps application on a phone which has GPS chips, such as the iPhone. In this case, Google Maps automatically knows your location, and can display search results for businesses near you.
So, for all your map searching needs, go on over to maps.google.com for Google Maps.
Website for Google Maps: Maps.Google.com