Google Maps; Streets Ahead?
With the release of Apples iOS6 and the unfavourable response that Apple Maps has received I’ve been looking again at how useful Google Maps already is and the latest developments that have been introduced.
Since introducing mapping technology back in 2005 Google have been able to integrate all of the information they’ve acquired into the most comprehensive and easily accessible maps we’ve seen. Street View took things to a new level three and a half years ago and we were able to virtually wander down strange high streets to see what businesses and shops are there. In this respect Street View is similar to the way Google crawls the web, looking into different sites. The speed at which businesses change on the high street, especially over the last three years, has made many of the Street View images of businesses out of date. The Google cars can’t be constantly travelling the country updating the street images, (well not until they’ve perfected their driverless cars!) but one way a business can update their store images is with Google Business Photos.
Inside Your Store
The idea behind Business Photos is to allow potential customers to wander around a business in the same way they can move around a town using Street View. For a fee a Google approved photographer will take photos of the inside of a business. Google will then stitch the images together into the familiar 360° views and add arrows to navigate around. It’s possible to virtually walk off the street into a shop and have a mooch about.
Access to the images can be made from Maps, Google + and Places but the latest development comes in the form of orange dots on the Maps page. When the stick man for Street View is moved over a map the orange dots that appear show businesses that have the Business Photos running. Placing him on one of the dots will take you straight inside the shop. Of course shops are only one type of business that this is perfect ideal for. To give a sense of scale and ambiance it’s nice to navigate around a restaurant or pub in a way that a static photo just can’t deliver.
The Google Business Photos are a useful tool to attract customers and just another area that Apple will have to look at to compete with Google Maps.