Multiple Search Layers Come to Google Maps, Google Maps for Mobile

Google Maps adds a Web services option that will let users do multiple searches in a destination search. For example, users can plot gas station and restaurant locales along the way to a tourist site. Google Maps for Mobile 3.2 meanwhile adds greater contextual layers, including Wikipedia, and traffic incidents to make mapping easier for mobile and wireless device users.

Google July 22 spruced up its Google Maps technologies, adding the ability to see multiple searches in its core technology and multiple layers of information in Google Maps for Mobile 3.2.

Multiple searches is an important feature because it enriches the search functionality in Google Maps, which to this point has required separate searches for each destination on the map application.

This add-on symbolizes how Google is not only organizing the world's information and making it accessible, but making it much more convenient for users to stay in Google longer. This stickiness is one of the company's secondary goals, something Google CEO Eric Schmidt frequently alludes to during earnings conference calls.

With the multiple searches add-on, users planning a vacation may want to plot their course from the hotel to a tourist site. Instead of doing separate searches for gas stations, restaurants and other useful locations, Google Maps now lets users plot their course so they can see what's along the way.

After the second search on, for example, restaurants along the route to the tourist site, users will see a blue bar at the bottom of the left panel. This is the new layered search widget. When users click on it, they may then check each box to "turn on" the additional searches along the route to the destination.

The markers are color-coded so users can differentiate searches on the map. Each time a user clicks one of the search boxes in the widget, the dots that show their searches on the map will wink in and out.

See pictures of how this application works on the Google Watch blog here.

There, you will also see results for Google Maps for Mobile 3.2, which lets users see many layers of information on their maps at the same time, including public transit, traffic, local search results, Latitude friend locations and Wikipedia results.

"Traffic has been available on Google Maps for Mobile for some time, but this new release includes traffic incident information for certain cities, giving more insight into the nature of the delay," wrote Jonathan Dixon, a Google Mobile software engineer, in a blog post.

Users can toggle various layers on and off, and mash up combinations like friends' Latitude locations against a planned route.

Moreover, it is now easier to search with Google Maps for Mobile 3.2. Under Search, users will find a link to browse popular categories.

Layers in Google Maps for Mobile is available now from on Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile phones, but it will soon come to other platforms, such as Apple's iPhone and Google Android-based smartphones. The upgrade is available for all countries where Google Maps for Mobile is currently available. To begin adding layers on Google Maps for Mobile 3.2, users must hit the "2" key or select Layers in the menu.

While millions of workers are skittering off to various sun-drenched locales for vacation, the Google Maps team has been busy this July.

The new Google Maps search and info layers come two weeks after Google enabled My Location, a Google Maps for mobile application that uses cell tower identification to give users their approximate location information, to work on desktop and laptops.