Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Google Maps of the Week

This week I was impressed by two Street View browsing applications. I'm not a Photo Sphere contributor but I still loved Google's new Photo Sphere community website, 'Views'. I was also greatly impressed with The Forgotten World, an atmospheric Street View tour of the abandoned Hashima Island in Japan.

Finally, this week, I really liked the imaginative use of the Google Maps API elevation service by the San Francisco Hill Mapper.

Google has unveiled a smart new community website, just for Photo Sphere users, called Views. If you aren't a Photo Sphere user don't worry, Views is still a great way to explore both Google Maps Street View imagery and Photo Spheres captured by people around the world.

The site highlights some of the best panoramas featured on Google Maps (the bigger blue dots on the map seem to indicate Street Views and the smaller dots Photo Spheres). The site really is great way to explore the world and is great fun to navigate around.

If you are a Photo Sphere user then you can get your very own beautiful Views page. Your page contains all your panoramic photos and provides a great way for you to share your Photo Spheres with all your friends.

Are you brave enough to venture alone onto the abandoned island of Hashima?

In June Google added Street View imagery of the abandoned Japanese island of Hashima, in Nagasaki Prefecture. Hashima Island - The Forgotten World is an amazing tour of Google's Street View imagery of the island, which includes historical background on the featured locations and the desolate landscape.

The site is a great guide to the island, adding context and the back-story to Google's amazing imagery of the island. The Street Views in this tour have been enhanced with some CSS3 filters to create an even spookier atmosphere which is intensified further by the accompaniment of some suitably spectral background music and sound. The children's voices and school bells that play when you stand in Hashima Primary School playground made the hairs on the back of my neck stand-up.

Hashima Island - The Forgotten World is a Chrome Experiment, so you will have to view the site in Chrome to get the full effect.

The Hill Mapper San Francisco makes great use of the Google Maps API Elevation Service to show the direction of the slopes on San Francisco's streets.

The uphill streets are colored red and the blue streets go downhill. The darker the color of the street, the steeper the hill. If you move your location on the map the colors of the streets dynamically update to reflect the new directions of the slopes, relevant to your new position.

I'd love to see cycling directions added to this map, with a route dragging option, so that you could plan a cycle route that avoided the steepest uphill climbs. 
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