Google Maps Gets Smarter Suggest Feature, Google Buzz Layer
Google April 22 extended its Suggest feature for Google Maps to 10 more domains and eight additional languages, part of the company's plan to make its search smarter for users.
Google Suggest for Maps displays relevant search
suggestions for places, businesses (with addresses) and points of interest as users
As of today, this feature is available in English and on maps.google.com in the United States, China, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. These domains join the existing Suggest for Google Maps in Germany, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Google programmers Steffen Meschkat and Peter Lidwell said they designed Suggest for Google Maps so users get the most useful suggestions depending on where they're zoomed into on the map.
In their example, users who search for "Mandela" in San Francisco will see items such as Mandela High School and businesses in nearby Oakland. By contrast, users who search for Mandela in London will see suggestions more relevant for that location.
Google April 21 made its Google Buzz layer available on Google Maps for the desktop. Google Buzz is Google's controversial social sharing service, which is baked on top of Gmail and gave Google major privacy headaches.
When Buzz users use Google Buzz for mobile from their smartphone, they would post Buzz with their location to add context for Buzz users following them on a map. However, this Buzz layer was not available for the desktop version of Google Maps when it launched back in February.
Now users can view the Google Buzz layer from their computer by going to Google Maps in their Web browser and selecting Buzz from the More menu in the top right corner of the map.
Users can click any available icon to see what people are Buzzing about there and click on the name to see the author's public profile, the timestamp to comment on the post, or the place to see it in Maps.
While the Google Buzz layer is available for maps.google.com in all currently supported languages, the desktop layer may only be viewed at this time.
That will have to change in order to make the feature fully useful, but chances are good that if users want to see Buzz posts from a Google Map, they'll be doing so from their iPhone or Android-based smartphone.
Finally, Google April 21 added its Search by voice feature in Google Maps 4.1 on Windows Mobile and
Symbian S60 phones.
Already available on Android and RIM BlackBerry smartphones, Search by voice lets users speak search terms into their phone instead of typing them. To use this feature, in Google Maps, press the phone's call button and speak a search term.