Google is heading skyward with its online maps, providing users with a birds-eye view of a state, city or street corner.
The search company late Monday incorporated satellite images into Google Maps, its beta mapping service released in February. Beyond viewing more traditional topographical maps of an area, users now can choose to see an aerial view.
The aerial view comes from Keyhole Inc., a startup 3-D mapping company that Google acquired in October. Keyhole uses satellite and high-resolution aerial images to render its maps.
The satellite option is also available on Google Local, which provides maps displaying the location of local businesses as part of its search results. The feature marks Googles first public integration of Keyholes technology on its site.
Google added the satellite view so that users could see how an area actually looks rather than simply viewing a roadmap, John Hanke, Googles general manager of Keyhole, wrote in the Google Blog.
"We cant promise youll never miss another freeway exit, but we do think that Google Maps [plus] Keyhole gives you a great way to see and explore your world," Hanke wrote.
Google is continuing to offer Keyholes desktop software, which provides higher-resolution images and can display a 3-D view of images, a Google spokesman said.
Google isnt alone in trying to tie in images of local areas and businesses with search. In January, A9.com Inc., the search subsidiary of Amazon.com Inc., began an effort called Block View to show images of local businesses and neighborhoods as part of its Yellows Pages service.
Last week, Google also began an experimental service for Google Maps that displays information about local transportation services. Called Google Ride Finder, the service maps positions of ride-sharing services such as taxis, limousines or shuttle services and provides contact information.
So far, the ride-sharing service is available for a limited number of cities and is part of Google Labs, Googles site for demonstrating prototypes.
In other search news, Ask Jeeves Inc. on Tuesday expanded into the Spanish-language market. The Oakland, Calif.-based company announced a beta version of a Spanish search site, the first of a series of European launches it expects to make throughout the year.
The Spanish site joins Ask Jeeves two other international search sites for Japan and the United Kingdom. Ask Jeeves in Spanish is expected to formally launch in the summer.
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