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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Google Maps Goes Indoors

An upgrade of Google's mobile mapping service released Tuesday includes directions within stores, malls, airports and transit centers in the U.S. and Japan.

With Google Maps' "My Location" feature, which shows your location as a blue dot, you can see where you are on the map to avoid walking the wrong direction on city streets, or to get your bearings if you're hiking an unfamiliar trail. Google Maps also displays additional details, such as places, landmarks and geographical features, to give you context about what's nearby. And now, Google Maps for Android enables you to figure out where you are and see where you might want to go when you're indoors.

When you?re inside an airport, shopping mall or retail store, a common way to figure out where you are is to look for a freestanding map directory or ask an employee for help. Starting today, with the release of Google Maps 6.0 for Android, that directory is brought to the palm of your hands, helping you determine where you are, what floor you're on, and where to go indoors.

Detailed floor plans automatically appear when you're viewing the map and zoomed in on a building where indoor map data is available. The familiar "blue dot" icon indicates your location within several meters, and when you move up or down a level in a building with multiple floors, the interface will automatically update to display which floor you're on. All this is achieved by using an approach similar to that of 'My Location' for outdoor spaces, but fine tuned for indoors.

Google has initially partnered with some of the largest retailers, airports and transit stations in the U.S. and Japan, including:

- Mall of America, IKEA, The Home Depot, select Macy's and Bloomingdale's, Daimaru, Taskashimaya and Mitsukoshi locations and more.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Chicago O?Hare (ORD), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Narita International (NRT), among others.
- JR and Tokyu Corporation

Google's tracking technology plots a user's location based on cell towers, GPS and publicly broadcast Wi-Fi signals. That's similar to what Google already does to identify where users are when they're viewing street maps. Google's engineers refined the system for the indoor maps so users can be shadowed with even more precision.

The indoor directions include two retailers known for their labyrinth stores - Home Depot and Ikea. Macy's and Bloomingdales also have shared the floor plans of a few of their biggest stores.

For a detailed list of participating locations, visit this page.

Google plans to add new indoor maps to public buildings across the world.

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