Thursday, June 25, 2009

Google Labs Release City Tours - Updated

Google City Tours

Google Labs have released a new application called Google City Tours built on Google Maps. The application allows anyone to identify points of interest and plan multi-day trips in major cities. Users specify the location of their hotel and the length of their trip and City Tours maps out an itinerary.

City Tours comes with a number of preconfigured tours for San Francisco, New York, London and Dublin. Each preconfigured tour has three routes, meant to be walked over three different days, that take in major landmarks, museums and galleries in each of the cities.

Each landmark on the tour is marked on the map. The pop-up window for each marker contains information about how long you will stay when visiting the landmark, a user rating and the opening hours. The map sidebar shows the order of the walk and the time it should take to walk from one location to the next.

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Google City Tours is in Google Labs, which means it is just an experiment for now. My instincts are that City Tours will be a very popular application with just a few tweaks and some added functionality. I'm sure that many of the suggestions below will be added before City Tours graduates from Labs.

The Guardian note that currently City Tours doesn't allow users to send links of customised itineraries to friends. This is obviously an essential feature if Google plan for City Tours to be used widely.

Mapperz points out that Google City Tours only provides 'as the crow fly' straight lines between different points on a tour. As Mapperz says, it would be much more useful if Google used their own 'walking directions' feature to provide the walking directions between different landmarks.

Techcrunch similarly suggest that Google add support for Google Transit, so users don't have to walk between landmarks.

Google Operating System suggests that Google add more multi-media and information about landmarks on tours,

"It would be useful to show more details about sights from Wikipedia and from image hosting sites like Flickr or Panoramio. Google works on landmark recognition, a project that associates images from the web with landmarks, and City Tours is an obvious application."


Hat tip to Mapperz for passing on news of this to me.

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