We are all familiar with the Labs feature in Gmail, it allows Google to gradually introduce new features without burdening the user. The strategy has worked very well for Gmail and now Google has brought it in for Maps as well. Starting today users are noticing a small Labs icon on Google maps allowing them to add a number of new features including:
Drag ‘n’ Zoom: Zooming on a map just got easier. Just click the Drag ‘n’ Zoom button, draw a box on the map and zoom.
Aerial Imagery: How about adding a rotatable, high-resolution overhead imagery to your maps. Currently available for only certain areas though.
Back To Beta: Like your maps with the beta tag? Get it back by enabling this feature.
Where In The World Game: Play a game witin Google maps. Guess the name of the country by looking at satellite images.
Rotatable Maps: Turn your map upside down or sideways with this feature.
LatLang ToolTip: See the latitude and longitude of any point on the map.
SmartZoom: Get rid of the stupid zooming errors. This feature would only allow you to zoom if imagery exists at that level.
All these features can be enabled or disabled through the labs. However, keep in mind that these are all experimental features and might change or disappear at anytime. If any of these features break your Google Maps, you can use this alternative link to load a version without any extra features. This also means we would be seeing a lot more features for Google Maps in the coming days. This will get rid of whatever competition existed between Google Maps and other services like MapQuest and Yahoo! Maps.