Google Maps StreetView's Opportunity for Improvement

Google Maps’ new StreetView feature is proving to be a very powerful addition to their mapping suite. However, it currently falls short of its full potential.

The biggest problem with the service today is that StreetView doesn’t point at the correct address.

For example, if you search for an address (for this example, let’s use 1412 Frankson Ave, St Paul, MN) you’ll end up on the right block using Google Maps. Clicking on StreetView will give you a view of that street, but it doesn’t come close to aiming at the correct property on the street.

Almost 1412 Frankson Ave, St Paul, MN 55108, USA - Google Maps

It seems like Google is defaulting the view to North for StreetView rather than pointing in the correct direction based on the address.

Over time, I think Google will correct for this based on user contributed address data. Once enough people have edited their home’s location within Google Maps, Google will be able to make fair assumptions about which size of a give street has odd or even numbers. For example, in Minneapolis the North-South running streets have odd numbered addressed on the East side of the street. With that information in hand, Google could default to an East facing view for odd streets and West for evens. That would immediately improve the experience for one relatively large city. The nice thing is that Google will have the data to automatically improve their results everywhere as they gain more user contributed property location edits.

In case you were wondering, the home at the address mentioned above is 5 click rotations to the right. White house, red door.

Google Maps Marks 1-Ways in Parking Lots

Navigating the University of Minnesota can be tricky for first-timers due to the name 1-way streets and intersections. Luckily, Google Maps marks the direction of each street.

But they also go one step further by marking the 1-way directions for each lane of the U of MN’s parking lots:

Google 1-Ways in Parking Lot

Seems a little excessive to me.

Someone really needs to check Google Earth to see if they’re doing level by level guidance for parking ramps.

Google Maps Adds User-Created Content Discovery

It just became a lot easier to find custom Google Maps that users have created.

A quick click of the “Show Search Options” and selecting User-created content will give you a list of custom maps created by Google’s users along the left column of the page:

Google Maps - User-created content

People are documenting all kinds of crazy things. For example, a guy named Adam plotted his 2007 Taco Bell Road Trip around Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs:

Google Maps - Taco Bell Road Trip

Do you see any fun custom maps near you?

via Google Maps Mania

Minneapolis Gets Google Maps Streetviews

Minneapolis gained big-city legitimacy today by joining the list of cities with Google Maps relatively new StreetView functionality. Map viewer now had the option to view their location of interest from a street map, aerial photos, or from a street level view based on photos taken by cars driving our fair streets.

Early reviews say that this technology is amazing. What surprised me most was the extensiveness of the mapping. I though they would cover business districts and major streets to start but they’ve shot close to everything in the first round.

Highlights:

The most somber highlight found so far comes from Aaron Landry, who discovered that you can drive across the I-35W bridge using photos taken only days before the bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River.

On a comedic side, an entourage was caught leaving a strip club during daylight hours by the Google cam:

Leaving the 22nd Avenue Station

Congratulations to GrubHub.com

GrubHub.com, a Chicago based food delivery mapping service – they help you figure out who delivers to your address – has received $1.1 million in funding from Origin Ventures.

We first met the GrubHub founders a year ago at Tech Cocktail 2 when they were just getting started:

I imagine the money will be used to help expand into new markets across the United States.

Find a Location's Name using Bird's-Eye Views

What can you do if you’ve been somewhere but can’t remember where it was you were?

Okay, that’s pretty vague. How about if you went to a store or restaurant, but can’t remember the name of it when you’re trying to recommend it to a friend? That could be a pain to figure out.

If it’s a restaurant, you could probably hop on any popular mapping site, search for restaurants, and zoom in on the map until you’re over the area you dined. This should bring up a marker for the location.

But here’s a twist on things: what if you’re looking for something that’s not as easily categories as restaurants?

That brings us to a situation Darrel Austin ran into where he was trying to figure out the name for a retail store that sells storage supplies.

He remembered where it was, but was pretty sure the name had changed. So, how did he figure out the new name of the store? By zooming in on the store’s location using Live.com’s bird’s-eye view until he could read the sign on the front of the store.

Want to know the name. Just look at it . . . virtually.

Calculate Taxi Fares with Google Maps Mashup TaxiWiz.com

TaxiWiz.com has launched a site that calculates the approximate fare for taxi rides between two addresses. It uses Google Maps to plot and calculate the driving distance between two points and uses that information to calculate the fare.

For example, here is a map of a route from Penn to Central Station in New York City:

TaxiWiz Map of Penn to Central Station

and the calculated fare:

Cost of Cap Ride

Could a New Yorker confirm the accuracy of the calculation?

It’s not the prettiest site in the world, but the data generated is valuable.

The service is currently available in New York City, Boston , Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto.

They seem to have done their homework by taking flat fares into consideration. For example, the site explains that fares from JFK to Penn Station are a fixed $45 fare. It also calculates rush-hour fare surcharges.

A mobile version of each city’s TaxiWiz.com page is available as well.