Google's panoramic street images now available through mobile browsers, including Apple iOS Safari.
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In the wake of Apple CEO Tim Cook's apology for the company's substandard iOS Maps app, Google has wasted no time letting the world know that its exiled maps service can be found on the Web, has a robust API, and will soon be available in a native iOS app.
Thursday, Google made its Street View service available in mobile browsers. To access Street View panoramic imagery, Google advises people to visit maps.google.com using a mobile device and then search for a location. In theory, this will load a white bar containing the "pegman" icon, just above the bottom menu bar. Clicking on the "pegman" will then load Street View images of the searched location, or it should.
Tested from InformationWeek's office in San Francisco, over an AT&T 4G connection that looked good from a signal strength point of view but failed to respond to searches, "pegman" was available in Chrome for iOS but appeared not to be in mobile Safari. It turns out Street View does work in mobile Safari and that that a search isn't necessary to produce the white bar with "pegman": Tapping to the right of the "+/-" buttons, located toward the lower left corner of the maps page, should reveal the white bar if it's hidden or hide it if it's already present.
In a blog post, Google Maps product manager Amanda Leicht said that transit, driving, biking, and walking directions are also available when viewing Google Maps in a mobile browser. One of the major complaints coming from users of iOS devices about Apple's Maps app is that there are no transit directions--choosing the bus icon in iOS 6 Maps loads a list of transit routing apps in the iOS App Store.
Wednesday, Google launched a website extolling the benefits of its Maps API, used by developers to create apps that utilize Google map data. Noting that Google is "constantly working to build the most comprehensive, accurate, and usable maps in the world for our users," leaving the reader to make the inevitable comparison with Apple, Google Maps API product manager Ken Hoetmer announced morethanamap.com to show how developers are utilizing the Google Maps API. The related Google Developer Showcase features hundreds of websites that have integrated Google's map technology.
Google's Maps API is one of the company's oldest developer services, dating back to 2005. Hoetmer says that more than 800,000 websites and apps presently use the Maps API to present geographic information. The Maps API is free to use for publicly accessible websites that do not charge and do not request more than 25,000 map loads per day. Usage beyond that requires the Google Maps API for Businesses.
Following the launch of iOS 6 last month, Google insiders leaked the company's intention--hardly unexpected--to release its own Google Maps app for iOS devices. The New York Times two weeks ago reported that Google is working to have the app ready by the end of the year, citing confirmation from "people who have been involved in an effort to create the app."
Google may be absent from the iOS Maps app, but the company is making sure that it's not forgotten.
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