Friday, February 12, 2010
We are pleased to announce the launch of Maps Labs, a set of opt-in features that add useful functionality to Google Maps. Labs allow us to quickly experiment with new Google Maps features, add new ways of interacting with the map, or just try out something wacky. If a Lab proves popular it may become a standard feature of Google Maps in future.
To activate individual Labs features, click on the green conical flask icon at the top right of the screen. This will bring up a list of Labs that you can enable. If you're logged in with your Google account, we will remember which Labs you have enabled when you next visit Google Maps.
To get started we have a range of useful Labs available today. You can enable the Aerial imagery that we recently launched in the Google Maps API. You can zoom in to a particular location just by dragging a box around it using the new Drag 'n' Zoom control. You can browse nearby businesses with the What's Around Here button and test your world geography with our Where in the World game. Or in case you still yearn for the days when you could turn paper maps upside down we even have Rotatable Maps.
We chose not to offer a lab that replicates the experience of struggling to fold a map back up though. If you really miss that, we can't help you.
Because they're experimental, Labs may not be quite as robust as some other features on Google Maps. In fact there's a chance they could change, break, or disappear at any time. Just in case, we've provided an escape hatch. If you discover that a Labs feature causes you problems use this link to disable all Labs and select just those you want to keep: http://maps.google.com/maps?ftr=0.
We hope Labs enhance your Google Maps experience and look forward to adding more in the future. To keep up to date with the latest Labs, get help with a particular Labs feature, or even suggest new Labs, check out the Maps Labs Google group.