It's been a busy few weeks for the Maps team over at Google. First came the expansion of Google Maps from it's North America and UK street maps and satellite views to the full monty - mapping the entire earth. The same zooming, grabbing and dragging that people marvelled over in North America and in the UK is now available in every major city and countryside everywhere around the globe. As if North American and UK satellite viewing didn't consume hours of your time already!
Have some fun with this new feature by visiting the original unique Google Maps views blog - Google Sightseeing. If you're
looking for suggestions, this blog is kicking with posts for unique world views from Hong Kong to Iraq.
In addition to the expanded world view there are many other changes which have arrived in this latest Google Maps release. Andrew Whitchcock has established this page which details them quite well, showing you screenshots of the before and after,
but here is a short list of highlights:
1. Road lines on the street maps have been made darker
2. Better realism in the street maps
3. Arrows added to street maps to indicate one-way streets
4. Building outlines of major landmarks
5. Larger tiles, less tiles to load
6. Andrew posts a good before and after example of downtown Seattle.
One other addition that is not mentioned here is that the map and satellite toggle buttons are now integrated right into the map tile image, not text-linked up at the top right of the page where it used to be:
Some bloggers have voiced some interesting geographical observations of this first Google Earth version:
"Particularly, there is nothing more than a rough map for both Cyprus and Russia."
"I'm not sure, but I'm betting the editors at Google aren't from Belgium.."
The one downside to exposing the new earth availability, the Google Maps tour doesn't contain any information on it.
Unfortunately for those not aware of the new expanded Google Maps features the Tour doesn't include any tips on trying out the entire earth and the zoom level always starts you off at a continental zoom. I know many people that use Google Maps that didn't even know this expanded availability even existed!
For Google at this point - all the world seems to be their oyster!