The North Pole air traffic control elves have just notified us that Santa has taken off! For the next day, you can visit the Google Santa Tracker to see where Santa’s headed next and keep tabs on how many presents he’s delivered. You can also keep up with him on your smartphone and tablet with the Android app, in your browser with the the Chrome extension, and even in 3D with Google Earth and Google Earth mobile (look for it in the Tour Guide feature with the latest version of Google Earth).

And follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter to get up-to-the-minute details on Santa’s journey around the world.

Ho ho ho! Happy holidays everyone!

(Cross posted to Official Google Blog

We hope you’ve had a chance to try the new Google Maps app for iPhone (announced last week and available for download in the Apple App Store). The app is designed to be simple—just to work whenever you need it. Still, we have a few tips to make finding things with Google Maps even faster and easier. All the tips are collected on our site but here a few of my favorites:
  • Swipe to see more. In Google Maps a wealth of information is often just a swipe away. Whether you’re looking at search results or directions, you can swipe the bottom info sheet left and right to see other options. To get more details on any of the results, swipe that info sheet upward (or just tap it—that works too). Even with the info sheet expanded, you can swipe to see those other results.
  • Place a pin. Get more information about any location by just pressing and holding the map. The info sheet that pops up tells you the address, lets you save or share the place, and best of all, brings up...
  • Street View. By far the easiest way to get to Street View is placing a pin. Tap the imagery preview on the info sheet to enter into Street View, then explore! I recommend the look-around feature (bottom left button) which changes what you’re looking at as you tilt and move your phone.
Want to learn more? See the rest of our tips on the site. And as you explore the app on your own, share your own tips using #googlemaps. Most of all, enjoy discovering your world.

(Cross posted on the Official Google Blog)

While millions of people eagerly await Christmas Day, Santa and his elves are keeping busy at the North Pole. They’re preparing presents, tuning up the sleigh, feeding the reindeer and, of course, checking the list (twice!) before they take flight on their trip around the world.

While we’ve been tracking Santa since 2004 with Google Earth, this year a team of dedicated Google Maps engineers built a new route algorithm to chart Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve. On his sleigh, arguably the fastest airborne vehicle in the world, Santa whips from city to city delivering presents to millions of homes. You’ll be able to follow him on Google Maps and Google Earth, and get his stats starting at 2:00 a.m. PST Christmas Eve at

Simulating Santa's path across the world—see it live Dec 24

In addition, with some help from developer elves, we’ve built a few other tools to help you track Santa from wherever you may be. Add the new Chrome extension or download the Android app to keep up with Santa from your smartphone or tablet. And to get the latest updates on his trip, follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Get a dashboard view of Santa's journey on Google Maps

The Google Santa Tracker will launch on December 24, but the countdown to the journey starts now! Visit Santa’s Village today to watch the countdown clock and join the elves and reindeer in their preparations. You can even ask Santa to call a friend or family member.

We hope you enjoy tracking Santa with us this year. And on behalf of everyone at Google—happy holidays!

(Cross posted on Official Google Blog)

People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone. Starting today, we’re pleased to announce that Google Maps is here—rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It’s designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you’re looking for faster and easier.

The app shows more map on screen and turns mobile mapping into one intuitive experience. It’s a sharper looking, vector-based map that loads quickly and provides smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views. The search box at the top is a good place to start—perhaps by entering the name of a new and interesting restaurant. An expandable info sheet at the bottom shows the address, opening hours, ratings and reviews, images, directions and other information.

At the heart of this app is our constantly improving map of the world that includes detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest. Preview where you want to go with Street View and see inside places with Business Photos to decide on a table or see if it’s better at the bar. To get you there, you’ve got voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic conditions to avoid the jams and if you want to use public transportation, find information for more than one million public transit stops.

The world around us is constantly changing and, thanks to feedback from you, we make tens of thousands of daily updates to keep Google Maps accurate and comprehensive. Here’s a helpful hint for the new app: if you see something off, simply shake your phone to send us feedback.

To complete the Google Maps ecosystem, we’re also releasing the Google Maps SDK for iOS, and a simple URL scheme to help developers use Google Maps when building their beautiful and innovative apps.

The new Google Maps app is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch (4th gen) iOS 5.1 and higher, in more than 40 countries and 29 languages, including Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Please note some of the features mentioned in this post aren’t available in all countries.

Visit the App Store today and download the new Google Maps app. We believe this delightful new experience is a great starting point—and we’ll continue to improve Google Maps for you, every day.


Whether you use Google Maps to get to work on time, explore new places, or find your way, our goal is the same: to make Google Maps the most comprehensive, accurate, and usable map for you. We are constantly working to achieve this goal by supporting you where and when you need it, and actively listening to your feedback.

Your answers and support for your Maps

There are more than one billion monthly active users of Google Maps services, and we are able to reach users in over 40 languages on our desktop maps and mobile maps Help Centers. Learn everything from searching on Google Maps to embedding a map onto your blog. In order to make sure the how-to guides and videos we post are useful to you, we provide a star rating form at the bottom of each article. Your ratings help us prioritize which articles we update - like this newly improved Help Center article for creating My Maps.

In the Google Maps Help Forum, a tight-knit community of superusers called “Top Contributors” and Googlers help you troubleshoot more technical issues, brainstorm best practices, and connect with others passionate about Google Maps. Our Google+, Twitter, and Facebook channels are also there to share product tips, and of course to listen to what you have to say.

Tell us what you think about our Maps

Your feedback is valuable when it comes to improving both the quality of support provided to you as well as the quality of the product itself. Provide comments and feedback about your Maps experience (and even help to fix the map) through the “Report a problem” feature. It can be found in multiple places on the desktop version of Maps, most prominently in the bottom-right corner of the map.

You can tell us what you think about our Maps by clicking “Report a problem” > “Other problems” > “All other comments, feedback on Google Maps.”

There are instances where feedback has caused big changes. For example, some Google Maps Android users had expressed their disappointment that viewing maps required an internet connection. The product team took that to heart and created a feature for mobile users to download maps for use offline.

Good support is about creating a connection between those of us behind the product and all of you who use the product. We want you to know your support options and feedback channels. After all, support and feedback are what drives Google Maps forward and what helps to make your experience easier than folding up a map.

(Cross posted on the Official Google Blog)

A year ago we released Street View imagery of areas in Northeastern Japan that were affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Our hope was that the 360-degree panoramas would provide a comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use way for people around the world to view the damage to the region by enabling a virtual walk through of the disaster zones.

The panoramas were only the start of our digital archiving project. Last month we took the next step—using the technology behind Business Photos to photograph the inside of buildings in Northeastern Japan that were heavily damaged but still standing. We worked with four city governments in the Tōhoku area to photograph more than 30 buildings, and today we’re bringing this imagery to Google Maps and our Memories for the Future site. The new imagery enables you to walk through the buildings and switch between floors to get a first-hand glimpse at the extent of the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami.

The timing of the project was critical. There has been a strong debate in these areas whether to keep the buildings up as a permanent reminder of the tragedy or to tear them down to allow emotional wounds to heal. After long consultations with their citizens, many local governments have decided to move forward with demolishing the buildings. Knowing this, we quickly moved to photograph the buildings before they started to be dismantled.

The panorama below shows an elementary school very close to the ocean. Thankfully, all the students survived the disaster as they had been well drilled to rush to escape at the sound of tsunami warnings.

Other sites include Rikuzentakata city public housing, a building that physically demonstrates the heights of the tsunami wave. Everything up to the fourth floor is completely ruined, but the fifth floor remains mostly unscathed.

Panorama of Rikuzentakata City Public Housing

We’ve also captured imagery of Ukedo Elementary School and a few other buildings in Namie Town—located in the restricted area (PDF) within 20km of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In the elementary school, you can see holes in the gym floor, where a graduation banner still hangs in the gym, though the ceremony never took place.

Panorama of Ukedo Elementary School

We’ll continue to photograph more buildings in two Iwate Prefecture cities, Ōfunato and Kamaishi, over the coming weeks. By the end of the year, we also hope to complete the collection of imagery from five new cities in the Miyagi prefecture. We look forward to making this new imagery available as soon as it’s ready to pay tribute to both the tragedy of the disaster and the current efforts to rebuild. City governments in Northeastern Japan that are interested in this digital archiving project are welcome to contact us through this form.


More than a billion people use Google Maps each month to find their way around town and around the world.  To help these people get exactly the information they need, the Google Maps team works constantly to ensure that the geographic data behind our maps is comprehensive and accurate. As part of this ongoing effort, we’ve just released updated maps for 10 countries and regions in Europe: Andorra, Bulgaria, Estonia, Gibraltar, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Today’s update is part of a project called Ground Truth that began in 2008. Through this initiative, we acquire high-quality map data from authoritative sources around the world and then apply a mix of advanced algorithms, supplemental data (including satellite, aerial and Street View imagery), and human input to create a map that corresponds as closely as possible to the real-world facts that you’d find if you were to visit that location.

For example, this update adds a new 70-km section of Bulgaria’s Trakiya motorway, which opened recently to drivers but hasn’t been reflected on most maps of the region until now.

Explore this area on Google Maps

But roads and highways alone don’t define the character of a place, and they aren’t always sufficient to help you get around. So Google Maps also integrates information such as walking paths, ferry lines, building outlines, park boundaries, university campuses and more—providing a richer, more comprehensive and more realistic experience for locals, visitors and armchair travelers alike.

Our new map of Spain, for example, not only shows the famous Museo del Prado and Parque del Retiro in Madrid, but also includes additional building models in surrounding neighborhoods, the well-known “Estanque” (or pond) in the center of the park, and detailed walking paths throughout both the park and the nearby Royal Botanical Gardens.

Explore this area on Google Maps

Of course, the world is always changing, and we want Google Maps to change with it. So when you notice something on the map that needs updating, let us know through the simple “Report a problem” tool in the lower right corner of the map. We’ll make the appropriate changes to the map—often within just a few minutes or hours of reviewing and verifying your feedback! This tool launches today in the 10 places where we’ve updated our maps, and is already available in dozens of other countries around the world.

With today’s release, the maps that we’ve built through our Ground Truth initiative are now available in a total of 40 countries worldwide. To see the progress we’ve made to date, take a look at the image below.

We hope today’s launch of more comprehensive and accurate maps of Europe will help you explore amazing places from Barcelona and Budapest to Bratislava and beyond.

Posted by Brian McClendon, VP Google Maps and Google Earth


(Cross-posted on The Official Blog.)

The Google Crisis Response team has assembled a Typhoon Pablo crisis map to help you track the storm’s progress and provide updated emergency information. On the map, you’ll find storm warnings, shelter locations, the latest weather information, and more. The map is available in English, as well as Filipino. You can also find the map embedded on the Filipino government’s Pablo site.

You can easily share and embed these maps on your website — just hit the “Share” button at the top of the map to get the HTML code. We’ll continue to update the maps as more information becomes available.

Posted by Steve Hakusa, Software Engineer, Google Crisis Response

(Cross posted on Google Geo Developer Blog

Today we’re launching an update to the Google Maps Android API, which gives developers the ability to use Google’s comprehensive, accurate and useful maps to build beautiful Android apps. The updated API is easy to use and features vector-based maps that load quickly and enables users to easily navigate 2D and 3D views, and tilt and rotate the map with simple gestures.

With the new version of the Google Maps Android API, developers can utilize Google Maps to its fullest. We’ve incorporated many of the highly-requested features developers want, such as:
  • More dynamic and flexible UI designs for large screen Android devices, such as tablets, using Android Fragments
  • Adding more Google Maps layers in their apps including satellite, hybrid, terrain, traffic and now indoor maps for many major airports and shopping centers
  • The ability to create markers and info windows with less code
Some of our favorite apps already use Google Maps, such as Trulia, Expedia Hotels and FlightTrack. Soon, when you upgrade to the latest version of these apps, you’ll experience the new API and maps as rich as those in Google Maps for Android.

With the latest Google Maps Android API, Trulia Android app users can search for a place to buy or rent in 3D.

To hear from these developers about their apps and migration to the new version of the API, check out the following Google Developers Live video below.

More than 800,000 sites around the world use our mapping APIs to create amazing and useful apps. We hope you enjoy using this new addition to the Google Maps API family and building mapping experiences that were never before possible on a mobile device.

To get started, follow the Google Maps Android API v2 documentation and reach out to the developer community if you have questions on building your app with this API.

(Cross posted on Official Google Blog)

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping. To help prepare for the winter ahead, we’re adding more detail and imagery to the map for a variety of chilly destinations, making them more comprehensive and accurate than ever. Starting today, you can virtually experience the Canadian Arctic through new panoramic Street View images of Cambridge Bay and detailed maps created with the help of local community members. And if you’re planning a winter getaway, you can preview the slopes of more than 90 ski and snow resorts around the world, adding to dozens that are already available via Street View today.

Canada’s Arctic

When we visited Canada’s far north this past August, we worked with the nonprofit group Nunavut Tunngavik and the residents of Cambridge Bay to improve the map of this remote, but culturally rich, Nunavut hamlet. The map this community helped build using Google Map Maker, as well as the 360-degree images we collected using Street View trike and tripod technologies, is now available for all the world to see on Google Maps.

To get a sense of what it’s like to live up in the north, you can walk down Omingmak Street, make your way to the bridge (where locals fish for Arctic Char) and head out to the Old Stone Church. Check out some Arctic souvenirs in the Arctic Closet, or visit the Ice Hockey and Curling Arena—it’s uninsulated and freezes over once they flood it in the winter! You can also learn more about Inuit history and culture at the Kitikmeot Heritage Society and the Arctic Coast Visitors Centre.

Explore the intersection of Omingmak (“musk ox”) Street and Tigiganiak (“fox”) Road

Ski and snow resorts across the globe

You can also view some of the world’s best runs right on Google Maps before you get there. Whether you’re looking to discover a piste you’ve never tried before, or just want to take in some winter wonderland scenery, we’ve added Street View imagery for resorts across Europe (including runs in Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Italy and Spain), Canada (including runs in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario) and the U.S. (including runs in Utah and Michigan).

For example, take a look at Sölden, a popular ski resort in the Ötztal valley of Tyrol, Austria. It’s not just tourists who flock there every year, but fans of professional skiing—Sölden regularly hosts the giant slalom competition as part of the Alpine World Cup in late October.

You can also visit Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. With 19 chairlifts, 4,000 acres of skiable terrain and an average of 355 inches of snow each winter, Canyons is the largest ski and snowboard terrain park in the state.

Visit the to see some of our favorite images of the Arctic and resorts available on Google Maps. As winter sets in, we encourage you to experience it all from the comfort (and warmth) of your couch—or check it out online, then dig out your thermal underwear and snow boots to hit the slopes!

(Cross posted on the Official Google Blog)

Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. For U.S. Marine Sgt. Winston Fiore, it was a news article about the International Children’s Surgical Foundation (ICSF) and Dr. Geoff Williams, who provides free facial-reconstructive surgeries for children with cleft lips/palates in developing countries. Although cleft palates are quite correctable, if left untreated the deformity can cause serious health issues. Many children don’t have the surgery because the cost of each procedure ($250 USD) is out of reach for their families.

Inspired to do something to help, Winston set out on a 5,000-mile trek across Southeast Asia to raise money and awareness for the ICSF—a mission he dubbed Smile Trek. Armed with sturdy boots, a 20-pound vest carrying essentials and an Android phone with Google Maps, Winston set off on his mission in October 2011. In the last year, he has walked (yes, walked!) through Brunei, China, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Along the way he’s met countless individuals who have contributed to his cause, whether it was a place to stay, a hot meal or a monetary donation on his website.

Trekking along: Winston, standing in front of a durian fruit stand near Sematan, the westernmost town of Malaysian Borneo

Out on the road, Winston’s Android phone and Google Maps became “the hub” of his entire operation. He used Google Maps to find accurate and easy-to-use walking directions everywhere he went, whether it was through remote villages and farms, down tiny dirt roads, or across rice paddies and desolate sugar cane fields. “Walking directions in Google Maps were critical to my trek. The directions were accurate and efficient—it’s essential to take the shortest route when you’re walking 20-25 miles each day,” said Winston. “But the best part was being routed onto roads and trails through areas I otherwise never would have discovered with, say, driving directions, or even a physical map.”

View the complete map of Winston's journey on his site.

In addition to using Google Maps, Winston relied on many other Google products during his trek. He used Google Latitude to keep his family, friends and supporters informed of his whereabouts, and MyTracks to record his speed, distance and the places he visited. He also used Google Translate to communicate with locals, and in one case found it essential: when bit by a stray dog outside of Bangkok, he typed "I got bit by a dog, can someone take me to a hospital?" into his app. A taxi driver took him to the hospital, where he got 11 shots!

Today, after walking 5,000 miles in 408 days, Sgt. Fiore completes his journey, with more than $65,000 raised for ICSF. The money will help to fund more than 200 life-saving surgeries for children in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. If you’d like to contribute to the International Children’s Surgery Fund and Winston Fiore’s effort, we encourage you to visit:


As part of our ongoing commitment to provide you with comprehensive and accurate maps, we continue to steadily release new and updated imagery of places around the world as it becomes available. Here, we’ll take you on a short tour of some of our favorite locations that were included in the most recently published batch of aerial, satellite and 45-degree imagery.

New high resolution aerial and satellite imagery:

The aerial and satellite imagery in Google Maps and Google Earth has now been updated for 164 cities and 108 countries/regions. Below are a few highlights from Washington state and Austria.

The Emerald City is bucking its nickname to celebrate the Space Needle’s 50th anniversary. Check out the image below, where you can see Seattle’s iconic landmark repainted to it’s original “Galaxy Orange” color scheme.

Space Needle, Seattle

From towering above the clouds in Seattle to a celebration of rooftop art in Austria, below we find an art installation where visitors are encouraged to ascend to the top of a rooftop and travel a set of wooden bridges to see the city from a new perspective.

Bridges in the Sky, Linz, Austria

New 45° imagery available for 60 cities:

Our collection of 45° imagery in Google Maps has also recently expanded to include 40 more U.S. cities and 20 more international cities, including Luxembourg and Romania for the first time. Below are some fantastic sites from Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Though one of the smallest countries in the world by size, this European Grand Duchy plays an important role in politics because it’s the site of several institutions and agencies of the European Union. Below is one of the administrative and conference buildings.

Settlements near the Swiss pre-alpine town of Thun can be dated back as far as Neolithic times around 2500 B.C. The city’s name derives from the Celtic term “Dunum” which translates to “fortified city.” Below is Thun Castle, which was erected by the Zaehringer dynasty around 1190 A.D. and which serves as the home of the district court of the Bernese Oberland until 2009.

Below is the full list of places where we’ve recently shared new or updated imagery. Enjoy!

Cities with new high resolution 45° imagery:

United States: Baltimore, MD; Bangor, ME; Battle Creek, MI; Bay City, MI; Bowling Green, KY; Burbank, WA; Burlington, VT; Charleston, WV; Cheyenne, WY; Decatur, IL; Duluth, MN; Eau Claire, WI; Fargo, ND; Farmington Hills, MI; Fort Wayne, IN; Hagerstown, MD; Holland, MI; Huntington, WV; Iowa City, IA; Kalamazoo, MI; Kelso, WA; Kenosha, WI; La Crosse, WI; Lancaster, CA; Lawrence, MA; Lewiston, ME; Lima, OH; Loveland, OH; Madison, WI; Mansfield, OH; Morgantown, WV; Portland, ME; Queensbury, NY; Rockford, IL; St. Cloud, MN; Toledo, OH; Urbana, OH; Waterloo, IA; Wausau, WI; Youngstown, OH.

International: Arcachon, FR; Brno, CZ; Charleroi, BE; Ferrara, IT; Fribourg, CH; Gijon, ES; Leeds/Huddersfield, UK; Leipzig, DE; Luxembourg, LU; Nantes, FR; Oviedo, ES; Parma, IT; Perugia, IT; Regina, CA; Reims, FR; Rouen, FR; Saskatoon, CA; Siena, IT; Sighisoara, RO; Thun, CH.

Areas with new high resolution aerial updates:

United States: Seattle WA, Mt Rainier WA, Mt St Helens WA, Ritzville WA, Chewalah WA, Pomeroy WA, Astoria OR, Portland OR, Eugene OR, Medford OR, Drewsey OR, Silver Lake OR, Sprague River OR, Pendleton OR, Bend OR, Mt Hood OR, Sandpoint ID, Idaho Falls ID, Redway CA, Redding CA, Bishop CA, Hayfork CA, Honeylake CA, Fresno CA, San Luis Obispo CA, Joshua Tree CA, Flagstaff AZ, Holbrook AZ, Arches UT, Cherry Creek NV, Hayden NM, Winnemucca NM, Wellington NV, Libby MT, Whitefish MT, Butler MT, Glacier MT, Great Falls MT, Missoula MT, Three Forks MT, Harlem MT, Lewiston MT, Montrose CO, Lamar CO, Ft Collins CO, Limon CO, Crested Butte CO, Sheridan Lake CO, Sheridan WY, Laramie WY, Bryce Canyon UT, Pueblo Peintado NM, San Patricio NM, Petersburg ND, North Platte ND, Medina ND, Ellendale ND, Devils Lake ND, Eagle Butte SD, Gettysburg SD, Swan Creek SD, Mitchell SD, Miller SD, Edgemont SD, Spooner WI, Ladysmith WI, Hayward WI, Atkinson NE, Ord NE, Holdrege NE, Beatrice NE, Nebraska City NE, Norton KS, Junction City KS, Topeka KS, Ellsworth KS, Wakeeney KS, Goodland KS, Scott City KS, Ottawa KS, Manhattan KS, Ottawa KS, Manhattan KS, El Reno OK, Shawnee OK, Oklahoma City OK, Tulsa OK, McAlester OK, Dallas TX, Greenville TX, Palestine TX, Montevideo MN, Owatonna MN, Litchfield MN, Willmar MN, Worthington MN, Creston IA, Des Moines IA, Cedar Rapids IA, Emmetsburg IA, Algona IA, Knoxville IA, Kirksville MO, Milan MO, Sedalia MO, St Joseph MO, Willow Springs MO, Butler MO, Warrensburg MO, Kansas City MO, Clinton MO, St Louis MO, Bloomington IL, Jacksonville IL, Freeport IL, Carrollton IL, Effingham IL, Mount Vernon IL, Sterling IL, Litchfield IL, Indianapolis IN, Corinth MS, Montgomery AL, Charlotte NC, Cincinnati OH, State College PA, Gettysburg PA, New Castle PA, Saint Marys PA, Lancaster PA, Hazleton PA, Scranton PA, Pittsburgh PA, Port Jervis NY, Rockland ME
Japan: Osaka, Hiroshima, Nakama, Fukuoka, Asahikawa, Choshi, Sendai, Okazaki, Edogawa
Canada: Winnipeg
Portugal: Coimbra
Spain: Oviedo
France: Reims
Belgium: Charleroi
Luxembourg: Luxembourg
Italy: Siena, Ferrara
United Kingdom: Huddersfield
Switzerland: Zurich, Geneva
Germany: Berlin, Munich, Leipzig, Wuppertal
Austria: Linz, Mistelbach, Pinkafeld
Czech Republic: Brno
Slovenia: entire country

Areas new high resolution satellite updates:

Canada, United States, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Suriname, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, South Africa, Madagascar, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica

(Cross posted from Official Google Blog

The holiday shopping season is upon us. Your favorite retail stores are already playing holiday tunes, promoting sales, and decking out their displays in red and green. But if flashbacks of people rushing all around you frantically trying to find gifts for everyone on their lists are giving you anxiety, fret not. This year you can use indoor Google Maps on your Android device to stay cool, calm, collected and most of all, one step ahead of the crowd.

On Black Friday and throughout this holiday season, simply zoom in to a participating store on Google Maps to devise your shopping game plan. An indoor floor plan with helpful labels will automatically appear, and the familiar “blue dot” icon will help you figure out the fastest way to the accessories department, the food court when you need to refuel, and the closest restroom or ATM when you need a break from your marathon shopping session. For many locations, you can even get indoor walking directions to find the best route from one store to the next. 

Indoor Google Maps for Mall of America in Bloomington, MN (left)
and for Macy’s in New York, NY (right)

These accurate, easy-to-use indoor maps are available for a number of popular retail locations across the globe including many local malls and select Best Buy, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Harrod’s, Selfridges, John Lewis and other stores. With the help of your Android device, you can beeline it to the camcorder you’ve been eyeing for your dad, and then quickly make your way to that sweater you know your sister will love. For list of additional venue partners, including some in Belgium that just became available today, check out this list

Indoor Google Maps for West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (left) 
and for  Nordstrom in Seattle, WA (right)

We hope these indoor maps make finding your way in and around retail stores easier, less stressful and more efficient this holiday season. To access them, simply update Google Maps on your Android by visiting Google Play on your phone or desktop. Happy holiday shopping!

Posted by Cedric Dupont, Product Manager, Google Maps

(Cross posted from Google Australia Blog)

Great Barrier Reef coral health, fire management, and depleting forest cover are some of our nation’s greatest environmental challenges. But up until now it has been a challenge to bring large-scale environmental issues (that might affect hundreds of thousands of acres) to life in a meaningful way. To help address this, we’re bringing Google Earth Outreach to Australia and New Zealand.

With Google Earth Outreach, nonprofit organisations can use Google mapping tools to visualise their causes and tell their stories to millions of people around the world.

See how nonprofits and researchers are using Google mapping tools.

Across the globe, nonprofits have used Google Earth Outreach to help clear landmines in Cambodia and Angola, and to demonstrate forest and wildlife loss in Sumatra, Indonesia. At last night’s official launch event at Macquarie University, we announced new projects with three Australian partners.

Dr. Elizabeth Madin from Macquarie University demonstrated how her team is using Google Earth to further her work in investigating coral reef landscapes; they integrate ecological theory and the high-resolution satellite imagery available in Google Earth to identify “grazing halos”, which may be able to tell us more about coral reef health.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority launched an interactive map, which will shows how their Reef HQ Aquarium is bringing the Great Barrier Reef to students around the world. They also launched a Google Earth narrated tour following the track of Torres the Green Turtle as he swims along the Great Barrier Reef and meets incredible marine life along the way.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy also unveiled two Google Earth tours. The first tour flies through their 23 sanctuaries which cover more than 3 million hectares to bring to life their fight to save Australia’s unique wildlife from extinction. The second tour overlays AWC geospatial data on top of Google Earth to demonstrate the impact of their EcoFire Project in the Kimberleys over the last six years.

If you’re a nonprofit interested in learning more about the Google Earth Outreach program, check out our website. There you’ll find tutorials and a showcase of nonprofit success stories, and you can also apply for grants for Google Earth Pro, Google Maps Engine, Google Maps API for Business, and Google Maps Coordinate.

We hope that by bringing this program to Australia and New Zealand, many more organisations will be able to tell powerful visual stories about the important work they do, to both help them raise awareness and funds and further their scientific goals.


A few months ago, we announced Google Earth for mobile, which offered new ways to see cities in 3D and a new tour guide feature to help you discover places of interest on the go. Starting today, you can get both of those features on a bigger screen that makes it even easier to explore by downloading Google Earth 7 on your desktop. Check out the comprehensive and accurate tours of more than 11,000 popular sites around the world, including our growing list of cities where new 3D imagery is available.

The new tour guide feature in Google Earth 7
The tour guide feature serves as a local expert, suggesting nearby places you might want to explore and helping you learn about those locations. For whichever area you’re viewing in Google Earth, thumbnails highlighting pre-created tours in the same area will dynamically update at the bottom of the screen. Simply click on one of the tours, and you’ll embark on a virtual flyover of famous, historical and cultural sites close by. Educational and fun facts from Wikipedia will also appear on the screen as you fly in and around locations like the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, and more.

New 3D imagery of Munich, Germany
In addition, Google Earth 7 now includes the comprehensive, accurate 3D imagery we’ve already made available on Android and iOS for Boulder, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Lawrence, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Seattle, Tampa, Tucson, Rome and the San Francisco Bay Area (including the Peninsula and East Bay). And today, we’re adding more 3D imagery for a handful of metropolitan regions including Avignon, France; Austin, Texas; Munich, Germany; Phoenix, Arizona; and Mannheim, Germany. The experience of flying through these areas and seeing the buildings, terrain and even the trees rendered in 3D is now consistent across both mobile and desktop devices -- making all of your virtual travels more realistic than ever.

Download Google Earth 7 and be sure to check out the Google Earth website for more tips and tricks.

Posted by Peter Birch, Google Earth Product Manager

(Cross posted from Geo Developer Blog) 

In 2011, Google Earth Outreach launched a new program to fund nonprofits that want to create cutting-edge maps for public good. Today, we’re excited to announce the winners of the 2012 Google Earth Outreach Developer Grants program. We’ve selected eight nonprofit organizations, listed below, that have presented a compelling ideas for a new map or mapping technology that will make a positive impact on the world. Each winner received a grant to support the technical development of their map. The winners include:

  • Wild South - Cherokee Trails: Google Earth tours, a map, and an Android app documenting Cherokee Indian geography and the struggle of the Cherokee to remain in their homeland.
  • Internews -Change of States Map: a Maps API application documenting local impacts and adaptations to climate change in the US.

Work is already in progress on each of the projects, so check back on our Developer Grants page in the coming months to see these maps come to life, and to explore maps created by last year’s grantees.

Watch this video to see an example of a Google Earth Tour made possible by the 2011 Developer Grants program is the Arctic Tern Migration, created by the Atlantic Public Media.

We’re very excited about the organizations that were funded this year, and we wish to thank these hardworking organizations who are improving conditions for people and the planet.

*These organizations were funded through the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund at the Tides Foundation.


Remember the last time you went on a hike, triumphantly reached the lookout point, and took out your camera to snap a few photos? Odds are that somehow, the pictures weren’t able to fully convey your experience of standing at the top of the peak with the rolling hills surrounding you, the vibrant blue skies above, and the rocky terrain beneath your feet.

Now, with Photo Sphere, the new camera mode that’s part of the latest version of Android 4.2, Jelly Bean, you can photograph an entire scene—up, down, and all around—to create a 360º immersive experience.

Explore immersive 360º Photo Spheres such as Vernal Falls in Yosemite Valley

You can easily choose to share your Photo Spheres to Google Maps so the entire world can enjoy the beauty of your favorite places. Your images will help make Google Maps more comprehensive, and enable other travelers to get an accurate preview of a location before they arrive.

Blue circle icons indicate where user-contributed Photo Spheres are available directly on Google Maps for desktop. They’re also discoverable on this website, which highlights some of the most incredible imagery from photographers around the world. Your geotagged Photo Spheres will be attributed to your Google+ profile name when you choose to share them on Google Maps. Of course, you also have the option of sharing them just with your friends and family through your Google+ circles.

Look for the blue circle icon to explore user-contributed panoramas on Google Maps

Whether you want to highlight your favorite places, show off your photography skills, or just help other Google Maps users see and experience a particular location, now sharing your Photo Spheres is just a few taps away on your Android device!

To learn more about creating Photo Spheres please visit this site. We can’t wait to see your favorite spots on Google Maps!


Update Nov. 1, 2012: We're constantly looking for ways to improve our ability to help in a crisis. Please tell use how you're using the Superstorm Sandy Crisis Map:

Already responsible for a reported 41 deaths across the Caribbean, late-season Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall again early this week on the East Coast of the United States.

Some are calling the hurricane “Frankenstorm” due to its potential mix of both winter and tropical cyclone weather. Regardless of what you call it, we hope that you get the information you need to make preparations and stay safe if you are in the area. It has the potential to be one of the worst storms the area has seen in decades.

The Google Crisis Response team has assembled a Hurricane Sandy map to help you track the storm’s progress and provide updated emergency information.

On the map, you’ll find the following emergency preparedness information:
We’ve also launched a map specific to New York City, featuring evacuation zone information from NYC Open Data, open shelters, weather information and live webcams.

You can easily share and embed these maps on your website — just hit the “Share” button at the top of the map to get the HTML code. We’ll continue to update these maps as more information becomes available.

Posted by Ka-Ping Yee, Software Engineer, Google Crisis Response


When you look at Google Maps, we want you to see the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-understand representation of the entire world. Today, we’re unveiling some visual improvements to the basemap that will help enable that goal.

Google Maps now clearly shows terrain, color gradations to depict vegetation, and labels for natural land formations. This enriched visual data allows you to quickly and easily see where the great forests, deserts, and mountain ranges around the world begin and end. It also conveys how natural land formations can impact where, how and why man-made developments like urban cities, dams and bridges are made.

For example, here’s how Southern Asia appeared before terrain and vegetation information was added:

And on the improved map below, you can now clearly see the dry deserts of Pakistan, the rocky Himalayas, and the rich jungles of Laos.

Another great example is the area north of Vancouver, Canada. Here’s how it appeared before:

And here’s the same area that now accurately shows the mountainous and rocky terrain in that area, immediately providing insight into why cities and settlements have been developed further south, rather than in the hilly landscape.

In addition to terrain and vegetation information, labels for large natural features are also now available when searching on Google Maps. Ever wonder where the Amazon Basin is? A previous search on Google Maps provided the below result:

But now, helpful labels provide more clarity:

So when you search Google Maps for dozens of natural land formations like the Gobi Desert, Melville Peninsula, or Nullarbor Plain, you’ll see improved, well-labeled results.

We hope this new visual information literally provides you with a more comprehensive and accurate lay of the land, and comes in handy whether you’re planning a trip or just browsing the map. From lush rolling hills to expansive deserts, just click and explore!


In our ongoing effort to create the perfect map—one that’s as comprehensive, accurate and easy to use as possible—we’ve gone well beyond just the streets. Through the Street View feature on Google Maps, you’ve been able to explore panoramic views of amazing places around the world ranging from the Swiss Alps to the Amazon to Antarctica, and a variety of urban cities, university campuses, ancient ruins and ski resorts as well.

Today, demonstrating the rocky and rugged paths we’ll travel to make Google Maps even more complete, we’re collecting imagery from a place no car, trike or snowmobile has ever been before. On its first official outing, the Street View team is using the Trekker—a wearable backpack with a camera system on top—to traverse the Grand Canyon and capture 360-degree images of one of the most breathtaking natural landscapes on the planet.

Operations Manager Steve Silverman (left) and Product Manager Ryan Falor (right)
hiking the Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim with Trekkers
The narrow ridges and steep, exposed trails of the Grand Canyon provide the perfect terrain for our newest camera system. The Trekker—which its operator controls via an Android phone and automatically gathers photos as he walks—enables the collection of high-quality imagery from places that are only accessible on foot.

Falor controlling the Trekker with his Android device
This week, photos are being gathered from portions of the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park, including the ridge, the famous Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and more. These panoramic views will soon be live on Google Maps, giving everyone from real-life visitors to armchair travelers the opportunity to marvel at this beautiful, majestic site from the comfort of their computers or mobile devices.

The team hiking the Bright Angel Trail
So get ready for the virtual adventure that awaits! And in the meantime, we’ll keep on trekken’ and working hard to bring you panoramic imagery of more visually stunning places we have yet to explore and share on Google Maps.

Posted by Ryan Falor, Product Manager, Google Street View