Google Maps Sites: From Instant Street View to Holiday Messages

New Google Maps apps are constantly being unveiled around the world. Here are some of the coolest new ways to use Google Maps this holiday season.

Innovative new Google Maps applications are being invented every day, bringing users myriad fun and creative ways of seeing information in fresh ways.

Here are some of the most fascinating map apps sites, which are being created by developers around the world using Google Maps APIs, that we've uncovered recently here at eWEEK:

Instant Google Street View Unveiled

You know how when you use Google Maps to find a Google Street View image how you have to pinpoint the place on the map and narrow down your search before your end result pops up on the screen? It's a bit laborious. Well, you don't have to do that anymore, thanks to Instant Google Street View, according to a Nov. 29 post by Mano Marks of the Google Maps developer relations team, on the Google Geo Developers Blog.

With Instant Google Street View, you simply type the address you are searching for into a simple search box on the screen and as you type, you are taken directly to an image of that place, without any manual finagling of Street View. Users can even share the images they find on social media sites.

"[At] Google, we find this approach very appealing," wrote Marks. "As you type, it rapidly updates the page with images from Google Street View until you get where you want to see." That's what makes it so incredibly useful and appealing.

The map app is built on the Google Places Library Autocomplete Service, which makes it work, and then it uses the Street View Service to display the Street View panoramas, according to Marks. "Most of all, we love that it's fast. So get out there and share some great images from Instant Street View."

The Google Maps platform is also being used creatively by spirits maker Stella Artois, which came up with a clever, sexy and enjoyable way to allow customers to send personalized video holiday messages to their friends around the world.

Christmas Carole (The Singer)

The Stella Artois Christmas Carole app, which is available on Facebook, lets users enter a recipient's name and address so they can receive a personalized message from a Marilyn Monroe-like singer and a band playing a holiday tune. What makes it really cool, according to the independent Google Maps Mania blog, is that "the Street View of the address is used as a backdrop to the video so that it appears that the band is actually playing in your street."

Check it out and send some fun holiday messages to your friends today. You might also appreciate the falling snow in the background and the homey, holiday feel to the jazzy production.

Who's Twittering Now?

The very creative TwitterMap app lets users see a bird's-eye view of any area to learn what's recently been tweeted on Twitter by people in the neighborhood, according to Google Maps Mania. Using the app, you start with a map of Tokyo, but you can zoom out with the controls and quickly make your way anywhere in the world to see what's being tweeted. The tweets picked up by the app zip by in rapid-fire fashion like an animated news ticker feed.

"The map is an interesting way to view in real-time what people are saying around a particular location," according to Google Maps Mania.

It's companion site, FlickrMap, displays thumbnail images of Flickr photos on top of Google Maps so you can view photos people are posting in a community all at once, creating a mosaic of images in fascinating and random patterns.