Internet giant Google today updated Google Maps and launched a new product called Google Reader.
Maps, launched last year, allows users to search for locations online. Maps has now developed out of beta status, and merged with the local search tool. In a press release, Marissa Mayer, director of Consumer Web Products said that "with today's launch of Google Local, users will be able to go to one location to find all the local and mapping information they need. Whether it's directions to the nearest pharmacy or reviews of nearby dim sum restaurants, we will continue to develop innovative technologies that enrich our users' lives."
Google also announced a new product called Google Reader. Previewed at the Web 2.0 Conference this week, and using clever AJAX technology, the product allows users to read and store RSS feeds on the web. Chris Wetherell, the engineer behind Reader, said that "We often get asked how anyone's supposed to keep up with the firehose of stuff launched from the web's spigot, so we're offering Reader as a way to help. Like the Personalized Homepage, it's a part of Google's ongoing effort to bring together personalized web content to make information more relevant to users." Reader also allows users to 'star' RSS posts of interest, in a similar fashion to Gmail, for reading at a later point.
The maturing of Google Maps into Google Local is an important step for Google. It, and most other search companies, recognise the fact that users want local features; importantly, so do advertisers. Google Reader offers another product in the company's RSS line up, and is a fine effort. Some web commentators had suggested Google had been slow to the game with RSS features, allowing competitors like Yahoo! to take the lead.
View: Google Reader
View: Google Local