Google has launched a new feature on its mapping service that allows people to see a 360-degree view of many streets in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami. Other cities will be added on later, according to John Hanke, director of Google Maps and Google Earth. If the street-level view feature is available, a button will show up on the maps page for the location entered. Clicking on it brings up a window with the view and directional arrows that can be clicked on to proceed in that direction. The window can be resized to a full screen view and users can zoom in to explore every nook and cranny.
Google also launched Mapplets, a tool that allows developers to create mini applications to be displayed on Google Maps. Developers can combine information such as real estate listings and crime data with distance measurement and other tools to create their own embeddable mashups directly on the Google Maps site. "One day we were looking at two of the original Google Maps mashups, HousingMaps.com and ChicagoCrime.org, and we realized it would be even more useful if they could be combined because most people wouldn't want to live near high crime areas," said Thai Tran, Google Maps product manager.