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Google: Maps, Too

Google Local lets you click between maps, satellite images, and (shown) routing graphics superimposed on satellite photos.
Google Local lets you click between maps, satellite images, and (shown) routing graphics superimposed on satellite photos.
With Google Local, the ever-expanding company adds mapping to its array of no-cost services. A map of North America and Google's usual search field appear on the home page. To find a particular location, you simply type in the address.

Getting directions is easy: You can either enter addresses in the start and end search bars or select a previously searched location as the start point ('From here') or destination ('To here') from the location's pop-up bubble. Most of my test routes worked well; but like the Microsoft and Yahoo sites, it routed me though slow city streets on the return leg of my test course.

Google Local's Satellite and Hybrid (with satellite imagery and superimposed routing graphics) views are its primary attractions. They don't really help with navigation, but they look great.

The business data seemed fairly current: Google Local found relatively new Starbucks and Peet's Coffee shops in my town. Results of my search for "airports near New York," however, were disappointing, producing a collection of travel-related businesses in downtown Manhattan.

Google Local is thin on extras. For instance, it provides no means of directly sending maps to a cell phone (although some Java-enabled handsets and BlackBerry devices can access the service via the beta of a downloadable Google Local for Mobile application), and you can save only one address, a default starting point. But the outer-space views are pretty cool.

Bottom line: Google has fun satellite maps, but otherwise the pickings are slim if you want more than basic mapping.

At a Glance
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