Map this way—Google My Maps now in Drive

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Whether you’re planning an epic road trip with friends or mapping out your favorite runs for a ski vacation, it’s easy with Google My Maps, our custom map creation tool. Starting today, you can access My Maps right from Google Drive, so it’s even easier to create, access and share your custom maps.

Creating a custom map is just as easy as opening up a new Google Doc. Just select “New,” then “More,” then “Google My Maps” to tap into your inner cartographer.

Create a new custom map right from Google Drive

Over the next week, all the maps you’ve created will also be accessible in Google Drive, so you can easily organize, manage and share them. Create folders such as “Travel,” “Hiking” and “Holidays,” and search through them to find your favorite custom maps—which might be as varied as Fourth of July Trip, Half Marathon, or SantaCon.

Magic City Half Marathon & 5K

In addition to accessing your Google My Maps in Drive, you can now add more layers and points of interest to your map, import bigger spreadsheets and include more details in each info box. Whether you’re mapping out the best surf spots down under or campgrounds in California, you can add all your favorite areas with more details across even more layers.

Whatever your needs for the holiday season, the new year and beyond, Google My Maps—now accessible in Google Drive—makes planning that much easier.

Posted by Dylan Lorimer, Product Manager, Google My Maps

Drive by Dubai with Street View

Monday, December 8, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Dubai is home to the world’s tallest tower, largest mall and the planet’s only seven-star hotel. With all these modern wonders, it’s no surprise that Dubai hosted 10 million global visitors last year—and aims to hit a record-breaking 20 million visitors in 2020. Starting today, it can add virtual visitors to that list, as Dubai becomes the first city in an Arab country to be added to Street View in Google Maps.

Start your tour with a drive on Sheikh Zayed Road, the longest road in the Emirates that runs in parallel to the coastline. Peer up at the city’s iconic skyscrapers and high-rise towers that, in some cases, reach more than 1,000 feet into the clouds. On one side, you can see the city’s elevated and driverless metro system.

Along Financial Road, pass Dubai Mall, home to thousands of shops. But with an average of 75 million visitors every year, the mall is more than just a retail space. Inside is a 10 million-liter aquarium -- one of the largest suspended tanks in the world -- and a facing it there is a flock of famous dancing fountains.

Most of Dubai’s buildings were constructed in the last decade, but if you’re curious to go back to where it all began, visit Deira. Here, the great-grandfathers of present-day merchants set up shop, creating one of the region’s biggest markets and establishing a major link in the time’s global trade routes.

Finally, no visit of Dubai is complete without touring the Dubai Creek. Known for its fusion of past and present cultures, and its trading connections with countries around and beyond the Arabian Gulf, along its banks you can see merchant dhows docked and bazaars bustling with silks and spices.

It’s hard to believe that a city not much larger than 4,000 square kilometers has become such a hub of modern culture with more than 200 nationalities mingling daily, as well as a center for trade and tourism in just four short decades. We hope that you’ll be inspired to explore its wonders in person, but until then, they’re just a click away.

Viva La Espana: 50 new Street View sights in Spain

Friday, December 5, 2014 at 4:00 AM

The Iberian Peninsula has a rich and varied artistic, architectural and cultural legacy. Roman remains, Al-Andalus, Gothic splendor and 19th century Catalan modernism are just a few examples of what you might see travelling around Spain’s cities and countryside. And starting today, people all over the world will be able to explore 50 new iconic locations in Spain with Street View on Google Maps.

Peruse architectural details of the Alhambra and Generalife, walk around the Tower of Hercules (a Roman Empire-era lighthouse), and gaze up at the vast arched ceiling of the crypt at the Church of Sagrada Familia.

In addition to these famed sights, you can also discover lesser-known treasures. Visit the desertlike world of the Bardenas Reales natural park in southeast Navarre, Neoclassic architecture at the Congress of Deputies and colorful stained-glass windows in the Cathedral of León. Or make a trip to the small medieval town of Albarracín, a walled lordship that has stood for centuries.

This 360-degree imagery was collected by our Trekker, a backpack equipped with Street View technology that allows the wearer to capture imagery while walking. To capture details of the fine art and architecture inside these magnificent sites, we enlisted the help of the Trolley. And for more sprawling locations, the trusty Trike captured imagery while its rider pedaled.

If this collection piques your interest to see these locations in person, you’re in good company. In fact, according to the survey on the Impact of Online Content on European Tourism, more than half of EU travelers consult Internet sites and social media in order to get information about trips. But even if you’re not planning un vacación anytime soon, the wonders of Spain are now just a click away.

A moment of zen: 100 incredible satellite images of planet Earth

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 7:38 AM

Thanksgiving weekend was a busy one for many Americans. Traveling, shopping, cooking, and visits with friends and family can be a bit hectic. For a mental break, we invite you to visit Earth View, a collection of 100 beautiful images from around the world, all taken from Google Maps’ satellite imagery. Landscapes from every continent are included, even Antarctica.
While you’re browsing, you can visit the location in Google Maps or download a high-res wallpaper formatted for your computer, smartphone or tablet. For Chrome desktop users, we’ve also released a Chrome extension that lets you see even more imagery. We hope you enjoy this virtual vacation… no actual travel required. Relax with a hot beverage, keep exploring, and if you find a particularly beautiful spot not on our site, please share it with us in the comments.
Posted by Aaron Koblin, Data Arts Team

Race with Rudolph and skydive with Santa in the countdown to December 24

Monday, December 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM

December may mean snow days in Denver, Colo. or beach days in Sydney, Australia, but in Santa’s Village, it means the countdown to Santa’s big night. Starting today, the elves are back on the clock in the North Pole—and throughout the month of December, you can join the elves as they unlock a new project or game each day in preparation for Santa’s annual journey around the world.
The elves have a busy month ahead of them—the reindeers need training and the presents need packing. They’re studying up on Santa’s upcoming stops with candy cane cartography, holiday tradition tests, and even jolly JavaScript courses.
Throughout the holiday celebration, our own developer elves here at Google have also been hard at work getting the sleigh tracking algorithm ready for prime time. They’ve been adding finishing touches to the Santa Tracker App for Android so Santa’s just a tap away on phones, tablets, and TVs. The developer elves have been busy, so check out the chrome extension and keep a watch out for Santa surprises throughout the month.
Whether you’re wearing snow goggles or sunnies this December, come back to each day to join in on present parachute practice and reindeer races, or to send a call to friends from Santa. There’s only 23 days to go, so follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter in the countdown #tracksanta!

Mappy holidays!