Google Maps are certainly not just for finding your way to a distant location on your next road trip. All over the world, software developers are building intriguing new Google Maps applications and Websites using the Maps API and Google's Street View images to portray lots of unorthodox thinking.
The Website Google Maps Mania, an unofficial blog that tracks cool maps and Street View collections created using Google Maps APIs, regularly finds and details interesting uses of the APIs and the amazing content that's shared.
Here are some recent finds that caught our attention here at eWEEK.
Your City as a Kaleidoscope
Paper and online maps of cities are usually very predictable, containing full-color illustrations of networks of streets, highways, points of interest, rivers, bridges, hospitals, fire stations and more.
So what if you looked at a map with a twist, say through a kaleidoscope to see how different things would look?
That's the picture you can get at the Website #rorschmap, where visitors can see maps and destinations in a whole new way, as though viewing them through the crazy, duplicated and repeatable patterns of a kaleidoscope.
Enter the name of a city and state in the search box on the bottom left, then click the "Go" button and you'll get a surprise that might make you smile as you see your town in a new light.
Divining Map for Vegan Eaters
If your diet consists of vegan foods, it's not always easy to find a place to eat when you travel. That's where the Vegan Food is Everywhere can come to your rescue.
The site claims to be a global map resource to help vegans find good things to eat by conducting a quick Web search, according to a recent Google Maps Mania post.
"Registered users of the map can add restaurants to the map anywhere in the world," according to the post. "Users can also add vegan dishes to restaurant listings so that other users visiting the restaurant can quickly discover what vegan food is on offer."
Visitors can view a restaurant's listing by clicking on its marker on the map, which will then display information on the restaurant and its menu.
Find Instagram Photos Near You
Lots of people are using Instagram to post photos and share their activities. The site Shots24 gathers Instagram photos from users and matches them up to Google Maps so that visitors can view photos taken by Instagram contributors near them.
The site asks for permission to link to your location, then displays a map of your area and geo-tagged Instagram images taken by people nearby.
Other sites offer similar functions, with some intriguing twists, though, according to Maps Mania.
There's The Beat, which mashes together Google Street View images alongside Instagram images that are taken by users in the same areas, and there's also Worldcam, which displays Instagram pictures submitted around any building, house, business or other destination, anywhere in the world.
Creative Architecture Views via Street View
Google Street View images are often amazing, allowing viewers to see and experience cities, architecture and far-off destinations through real-world images right on their computer screens.
But for some creative people, that's not enough.
One such person is Dori Szente, who "takes photographs of Budapest and then photoshops them so that the images reflect the perspective distorted views of Google Satellite View," according to a recent Google Maps Mania post. The images are posted on the Website Street View Photography, offering unique and stark images of lovely buildings.