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8/18/2011
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Google Brings Weather To Maps

Local weather conditions augment the popular Google Maps service; Street View will also be extended to map the Amazon basin.

Slideshow: The Top 16 Google Services
Slideshow: The Top 16 Google Services
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Google has enhanced its popular Maps service with a new data layer that displays information about local weather.

The weather layer can be accessed from the menu in the upper right-hand corner of Google Maps. It's one of several data layer selections from a list that also includes Traffic, Transit, Photos, Terrain, Webcams, Wikipedia, Videos, Bicycling, Buzz, and Labels.

"When zoomed out, you'll see a map with current weather conditions from weather.com for various locations, with icons to denote sun, clouds, rain and so on," explains Google user experience designer Jonah Jones in a blog post. "You can also see cloud coverage, thanks to our partners at the U.S. Naval Research Lab. And, if you look closely, you can also tell if it's day or night around the world by sun and moon icons."

Local weather conditions--highs, lows, humidity, wind, and cloud cover--are displayed on the left-hand sidebar regardless of map magnification. Weather icons and area temperatures are shown on the map when zoomed out about halfway. Clicking on these icons opens a pop-up menu that reveals the full set of weather data, as shown in the sidebar.

The sidebar listing also provides the option to change unit measurements, from Celsius to Fahrenheit, for example.

Google Maps River View

On Wednesday, Google announced plans for another Google Maps improvement. The company intends to extend its Street View service to the Amazon--the river, not the e-commerce site.

Members of Google's U.S. and Brazil Street View teams, in conjunction with Google Earth Outreach--a group within Google that provides map-related resources and assistance to non-profit organizations--have been training representatives of the Foundation for a Sustainable Amazon, a local conservation group, to capture imagery of the Amazon basin using Street View technology.

The goal for the first phase of the project is to capture 50km of panoramic views of the Rio Negro River, in the area near Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas.

Google and its partners will be pedaling Street View trikes and floating Street View cameras on boats in an effort to photograph local flora and fauna. Presumably, Google will continue protecting the privacy of animals caught on camera, as it has done with horses.

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