Thursday, August 17, 2006

Google Maps for Mobile now supports KML

An article from the Press Telegram highlights an official announcement expected today from Google about some exciting new functionality on Google Maps for Mobile: New functionality now allows you to view a Google Earth KML file inside Google Maps for Mobile!

KML files are information overlays opened inside Google Earth (or in some cases Google Maps) and feature a placemark, image or polygon. Think of them as the mashup viewing component for Google Earth. This will now allow you to view KML files which have been posted on the web on your Google Maps for Mobile application on your mobile phone or PDA.

To try this out, do the following:

1. Open Google Maps for Mobile on your mobile phone or PDA (Download it here)
2. Select "Find Business"
3. Select "Enter a new search"
4. Type in: http://dev.keyhole.com/trek/StarTrekPlaces.kml
5. Start to view placemarks for the KML file!

..Viewing each placemark on Google Maps for Mobile is cool too since you move from placemark to placemark by just keying in numbers. The viewing experience is very similar to jumping from point to point in a series of turns in a regular street maps directions search on Maps for Mobile.

Google will be making this announcement at a Star Trek convention today attended by an estimated 15,000 people, according to the above-linked article. The page they have set up to launch this feature is intended for Trekkies attending this event and this example KML file I've chosen above shows points of information for the convention. Visit the information page here: http://www.google.com/trekfan. From a marketing perspective, this really shows the possibilities for Google's mapping technology for events or conventions. You could create a KML file that is posted on your event website for Google Earth users to view, and now Maps for Mobile. The file can also be viewed in Google Maps, although you could create a more sophisticated mashup with more detail in the info-windows.

Google Video about
KML on Mobile:

KML integration into Maps (Desktop of Mobile) is not perfect. Not all KML files are viewable in Maps for Mobile. It's a good idea to cut/paste the full URL into Google Maps first, then key it into a business search on your phone. That said, does anyone reading this post know of a list of good KML files that view well in Maps without errors? Typically files with only a few placemarks are best since large numbers of placemarks get truncated when viewing it on Maps.

All in all, this is a great feature that further integrates Google's mapping products (Maps, Earth and Maps for Mobile) with each other. It should spawn further KML development and "unearth" more web-hosted KML files out there that will be useful to view while on the go. For mashup developers out there when creating your Google Maps mashups, don't forget to create a KML file for Earth and Maps for Mobile users to view! This should be the beginning of a new wave of Google Maps mobile mashups by way of KML...

Related:

[Credit to the Press-Telegram for the tip!]
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