This fortnight’s apps look at maps and navigation – in the context of enhancing the ways in which we engage with our physical reality online.
In late July, Google launched a site called Views for sharing 360-degree panoramic shots called “Photo Spheres”. Views is a community site, and lets users upload images from their Google+ profile.
To upload these Photo Spheres, sign into Views, and click the blue camera button on the top-right of the page. Another way – friendlier for smartphones – is take panoramic shots, and then get them on Views by tapping ‘Share’ and choosing Google Maps from the list.
Photo Spheres can be created by Android devices running version 4.2 (“Jellybean”) or higher. By itself, Views is great because it lets users digitise physical spaces and engage with images from multiple viewpoints instead of just the one. The immersive experience also lets users create new kinds of content to share with their friends.
Google Maps + Waze
A few months ago, this writer wrote about Waze, an Israeli start-up’s app that lets its users crowd-source navigation and traffic details to put them on maps. Two months ago, Waze was bought by Google for $1.03 billion to augment its Maps application. Soon after, data-sharing between the two apps started.
Now, Google has announced that Maps for Android and iOS features enhanced integration with Waze, and vice versa. This means that Waze users can avail data from Street View and in-app Google Search. Although the initial rollout doesn’t include India, there’s reason to be believe that its inclusion is imminent.
Waze – available for free – is especially useful in this country because of the constant changes in traffic routes because of construction work, etc. Where the Google Maps application has fallen short, you could use Waze to plot your way and share it with others – sort of like a traffic navigation Wiki. The customisability goes ahead to include speed-limit warnings for roads you didn’t know had traffic lights or cameras!