Google launched the upgrades at its first Geo Developer Day, held at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. Among the announcements were updates to the application programming interfaces (APIs) of Google Maps, which provides street maps, driving directions and local search.
In merging geographic information with the online applications, developers can now integrate geo-code addresses. Geo-coding is the process of assigning geographic coordinates, such as latitude and longitude.
Other API updates include a new feature that enables the display of Keyhole Markup Language (KML) on Google Maps. KML is the file format used by Google Earth and other applications to share geographic information.
The feature enables data created in Google Earth, which provide satellite views of locations, to be seen in a Web browser as an embedded component of a site. KML requires no computer programming expertise, Google said.
Finally, Google introduced fee-based licensing and support for businesses wanting to embed Google Maps in sites to map customer locations, track shipments, manage facilities or view any other data source in a geographic location.
For consumers, Google launched a new version of Google Earth with a more streamlined user interface, and the addition of textured buildings to raise the level of realism and detail, the company said. Google also released a Linux version of Earth, and added to the index high-resolution imagery that now covers more than a third of the world's population.