Google Maps Out Where to Go

Following the launch of its local search, which provides address information for nearby businesses, Google has gone one step further: telling you how to get there. Google Maps was quietly unveiled in beta form today, further building up the company's ecosystem of search related utilities.

Even in beta, Google Maps offers a few advantages over competitors. Maps can be dragged to view adjacent areas, which means users do not have click and wait for graphics to reload. Zooming is also instantaneous with the help of a slider placed atop the map.

"It's like having a huge map you can scroll around in," Google says.

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Google Maps is also closely tied with the company's local search. Instead of entering a specific address, users can simply search for a term such a "sushi," which would then show all nearby sushi restaurants directly on the map.

Like current map providers, Google offers step-by-step directions for traveling between two points. Clicking on one of the steps pops up a floating bubble containing a magnified view of the area. For the time being, however, Google Maps is limited to the United States and Canada.

"Google is focused on organizing the world's information and making it
universally accessible and useful, and this experiment is another step
forward in helping users find the local information they need," the company said in a statement.

Although no official announcement has been made, Google has apparently partnered with TeleAtlas to power its map service.

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