Yahoo Maps Gets Design Refresher

Following the Yahoo logo update three weeks ago, Yahoo Maps today landed in tow and got itself a design and usability update.

tumblr_inline_mtoww8PDq31qhxx5sThe Yahoo Search Company blog reports a couple of “key new features and content options” that enhances results for local searches on Yahoo Maps, but only in the United States, it seems. With the new updates, the system now shows you different routes to a destination depending on whether you plan to walk or take the public transport. “The public transportation view lets you see different options so you can pick which one looks best to you. All connections and transfers are clearly presented in a thoughtful manner.” – says Anand Chandrasekaran, Senior Director, Product Management on the company blog.

Along with the new route updates, Yahoo has also updated satellite imagery. ” We’ve recently refreshed satellite imagery for over 14 million square kilometers of land – significantly reducing  cloud cover, improving edge matching and image sampling and creating coast to coast views” – promises the web company.

There’s no denying Google’s monopoly in online mapping and street routing, but a little competition in every field does nothing but good for the average consumer. If you appreciate Yahoo’s gusto, check out their maps offering on

Google Maps for iOS Downloaded 10M Times in First 48 Hours

Last week, Google Maps for iOS was released. Now the app, as mentioned in a Google+ blog post from Jeff Huber, has turned out to be a hit, with more than 10 million downloads just 48 hours after the app was released last Wednesday night.

We’re excited for the positive reception of Google Maps for iPhone around the world. Congratulations to the Maps Team on the recognition for the passion and hard work they poured into it, for this release and over the last 7+ years.

If you already have it – thank you, and please tell a friend. Any feedback you have is welcomed, here in G+ or in the app (just shake it).

Google Maps took the number one free app ranking on the App Store within a day of its release, and today is has a 4.5 star rating with more than 20,000 reviews.

Google Maps is a free app that can be downloaded via the App Store. [App Store]

Google Maps for iOS Released

Today, Google has released a standalone Maps app for iOS [App Store]. It is available via the App Store for free. The new app offers a significant number of features that weren’t offered in the built-in Maps app on iOS 5 and earlier. Turn-by-turn directions are offered along with the famous Street View.

Here’s the full list of features the Google Maps app offers:


  • Find addresses, places and businesses around the world with Google local search.
  • Discover places to eat, drink, shop and play, with ratings and local reviews.
  • Sign in to sync your searches, directions, and favorite places between your computer and your phone.


  • Get voice guided, turn-by-turn driving directions.
  • Find your way by train, bus, subway or walking directions.
  • Access live traffic information in cities across the world.

Street View and imagery

  • View 360-degree panoramas of places around the globe with Street View.
  • See inside more than 100,000 businesses worldwide.
  • View high resolution satellite imagery of locations around the world.

Simple and easy to use

  • An entirely new Google Maps experience on your iPhone.
  • Newly designed and streamlined interface for even easier navigation of your world.
  • Use gestures to explore the map and browse results.
The app is not optimized for the iPad yet, but can be used as an iPhone app.

Tutorial: Use Google Maps to Measure Distances

If you have used the internet at all, you have probably at some point used Google maps. It is probably the most fascinating and under utilized tool on the web. It is great for getting directions from here to there. You can also use the satellite view to get a real life picture of an area on they map. Street view is pretty handy to if you want to know what the landmarks of an area you are visiting look like. Today, I would like to show you a neat tool for measuring distances using Google maps.

I work in the construction industry and we are constantly looking at large buildings and parking structures. So often when you’re bidding work for someone, they don’t have a good blueprint with accurate measurements. Fortunately, Google maps makes this pretty easy. First thing we need to do is have a Google account. If you don’t have one, go to and sign up for an account. The reason for this is you need to actually login to Google maps to use this tool. Once you have a Google account, go to You should see something similar to the picture below. Beside the “Google” logo there is a search box where you can type an address or significant landmark and do a search. In my first example I typed “Golden Gate Bridge” because I thought it would be neat to see how long that bridge is. Once you type in your search, you will notice a button that says “My Places”. You will need to click this to get to the measuring tools.

Once you click on “My Places”, you will see what is pictured below. To use these tools, you actually create a custom map. Don’t worry, you can delete it later if you don’t want to keep it. Click the red “Create Map” button to start using the measuring tools.

Create Map

Below, you can see my screen. The Golden Gate Bridge is pictured in the middle. In the upper left corner of the map, you will see three buttons. The little hand tool lets you move the map around. The middle tool that looks kind of like a push pin allows you mark places on a map. This is handy for travel planning. The last tool looks like a squiggly line. This tool lets you draw a line on the map and is what we will use to measure distance.

Golden Gate

Below, you can see up close where I selected the “Draw a line” option on the Google map.


Line Tool

Below, you can see where I have drawn my line across the bridge. Here’s what I did. I clicked on the first point where I thought the bridge started. Now you can drag if you want to. What I did was just find the ending point of the bridge and clicked there. You will notice when you click, you get a little white square indicating a point where you clicked. Straight lines are easy. If you have something that is curvy or oddly shaped you will need to do several small clicks at a time. Once you have finished drawing your line, you will need to click the last point of your line to indicate you are finished.

Line Drawn

Once you have completed your line, a little box will pop up like the one pictured below. This is where you can give your line a description. Notice at the bottom of the box that it tells you how long the line is. In this case it was 1.05 miles.


Now you may be wondering how accurate this measurement is. Well, I was a little skeptical. One problem for me on the Golden Gate Bridge was I didn’t know how far down to click to get an “official” measurement. So I decided to my own little test. I decided to do a search for the place where I work. In the back of our building we have this huge dumpster. I went out and measured and got 21.5 feet on my tape measure. Notice in the picture below, I have a red arrow pointing to the measurement of my dumpster. That is pretty darn close if you ask me!

Dumpster Measurement

There are so many applications I could see this tool being used for. For instance, in the electrical industry it is always important to have an accurate measurement of cable runs so you order the appropriate amount of cable. Copper is expensive and having good measurements can save you a lot of money. Maybe you need to reseed your lawn but you’re not sure how many square feet you have. Google maps would be an excellent way to measure that distance. I hope you have enjoyed this little tutorial. As always feel free to comment or as any questions.

RailRadar Tracks All Trains Running in India on Google Map

Indian Railways is hardly the most sophisticated public railway service, but it is one of the largest in the world. Given how every government treats the railways as simply a means to please the junta and gain votes, it’s a wonder that the Indian railways is still functioning as well as it is doing. However, the state-owned enterprise is capable of throwing us the odd surprise.

Today, I discovered on Hacker News, a neat Google Maps mashup developed by the Centre for Railway Information Systems or CRIS (an organization under the Ministry of Railways), called RailRadar. RailRadar is an interactive map that plots the position of trains running in India in realtime, and indicates whether they are on time or delayed. It uses the existing database of TrainEnquiry and presents it in a more visually interesting manner. Clicking on any train brings up more information including its next stop and route.


The conventional web and mobile interface of TrainEnquiry will still be more useful when you want to track a particular train. However, RailRadar deserves props as it’s not often that you see something as cool as this from Government of India owned entities. Now, if only CRIS would fix the nightmare that is IRCTC.

[ Visit RailRadar ]

Tim Cook Apologizes For Maps, Suggests Alternatives Including Google Maps

Apple ditched Google Maps in favor of its own Mapping service in iOS 6, and promised that it will be the most advanced mapping app with 3D buildings and effects. However, once the iPhone 5 and then iOS 6 were released, everyone realized that Apple had made false claims. The new Maps app in iOS 6 is much inferior to its competition especially Google Maps and lacks a lot of detail. Over the last couple of weeks, jokes about the new Maps app in iOS 6 have been flowing right, left and center and Apple has been heavily criticized for providing its users with a service that barely works.

Today, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has written an open letter to its customers accepting that the company “fell short on [its] commitment” to deliver a world class experience with its Maps app. The letter then states that Apple is “extremely sorry for the frustration” the new Maps has caused to its customers, and that the company is doing “everything” they can to make the experience better. The letter also states that as more and more iOS 6 customers will use the Maps, the better the service will get.

Tim Cook even went on to suggest iOS 6 users some other alternatives to Maps including Bing, MapQuest, Waze or Google and Nokia maps. While suggesting other alternative Maps service from Apple is a bold move, the company should not have removed Google Maps from iOS 6 or should have given users a warning who were upgrading from iOS 5 to iOS 6.

Below is the full letter from Tim Cook -:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO


Amazon to Compete against Google Maps with Its Amazon Maps API

After Google Maps made the folly of increasing its pricing, everyone is shying away from using Google Maps for their mapping solutions, and there could not be a better time for other players to launch a competing mapping solution of their own. Amazon took the cue, and has been quick to launch an Amazon Maps API, as part of its Amazon Mobile App SDK offering.


Currently, the Amazon maps API is supported only on the Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD devices. The new devices will also support location-based services through the Android location API, and a mapping service was absolutely necessary to complement those services.

The features on offer are pretty much standard, and include pan and zoom controls with an option for satellite view. The location API will be used to display custom overlays, as customized pin markers. Additionally, the Amazon Maps API also promises an easy migration from Google Maps.

The mapping data in this API is being provided by Nokia, as confirmed by Dr. Sebastian Kurme, a spokesperson for Nokia.

Amazon is licensing the Nokia Location Platform (NLP) for maps and geocoding.

Amazon´s decision to choose the Nokia Location Platform is further proof point that our competence in this space is a key differentiator also for other leading players in the industry to offer great location consumer experiences.

Currently, the public mapping space is dominated by Google at large, with Open Street Maps being its only competitor. Device and platform specific maps are provided by Apple and Nokia as well, but Nokia is clearly emerging as a major enterprise-mapping provider with most of Yahoo maps, Bing maps and now Amazon Maps being powered by its map data.

The Amazon Maps API is in its beta state currently, and requires developers to apply for access through the Amazon Mobile App SDK portal.

Google Navigation Comes To Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar And Other Countries

Google and Apple have a history of launching their new services only in the United States first, and then slowly expanding it to other regions of the world. Sadly, some of the most brilliant services from these companies like the free turn-by-turn map navigation from Google and iTunes Match from Apple are not available in most of the third world countries.

Google, thankfully, has showed some love to third world countries, and recently enabled free turn-by-turn navigation and live traffic information in India. Today, Google has shown some of its navigation love to Android users in Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar, Algeria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The bad news? The free service will only be available to Android devices running Android 4.0 ICS or higher.

Hopefully, Google will expand its free navigation services to more countries in the world, and will also work on bringing Play Books, Play Music and Play Movies to some third world countries.

Google Navigation Now Available In India

Google Navigation is undoubtedly one of the best navigation (and free!) services available out there for Android. However, like most of the Google services out there, Google Navigation is only available in the United States, Canada and a few other regions of the world.

Today, Google has silently rolled out its Navigation feature to Android users in India. Rumors of the service coming to India started floating around since yesterday, when Google India uploaded a video that demonstrated the Navigation feature working in India.

In a country with more than a billion people, and millions of Android handset owners, this move from Google will definitely be appreciated by a lot of people. The Navigation service, itself, still remains in beta though.

This move from Google has also effectively killed the local sat-nav. GPS providers in India including MapMyIndia. While the maps from MapMyIndia and other such services might be more detailed and accurate, the free price tag of Google Maps and its Navigation service is too good to be ignored.

Swiftkey, Instagram, Google Maps and Google+ For Android Updated!

Over the last few days, quite a lot of Android apps have got major updates. First in the list is the best keyboard available for Android, Swiftkey. The latest update to the keyboard introduces a couple of sub-par themes, support for new languages like Malay and Urdu, and finally brings dictation support for devices running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher. There are also some bug-fixes, Jelly Bean compatibility fixes and UI enhancements. The updated version of the app is already live in the Play Store and can be downloaded from here.

Second in the list is Instagram. The v3.0 update of the app brings with it a new feature — Photo Maps! — along with a new UI for user profiles and other parts of the app. Photo Maps! allows users to browse all the photos clicked from their followers on a map which is being cited by Instagram as “a fun, new way of browsing photos”. The updated version can be downloaded from the Play Store.

Third in the list is Google maps. The latest update of the app brings some pretty major changes including improved transit information layer, a much more useful Location History feature that shows your visited places on a day-by-day basis and finally, a new icon.

Last but not the least, Google also updated the official Google+ app for Android. The latest version allows users to join Hangouts on air right from their mobile device. Other changes include shortcuts to creating new posts, events and sharing your location right on top. The updated Google+ app can be downloaded from here.