Google Australia launches YouTube Sessions music channel, tweaks Maps

Google Australia has stepped up the search giant's push into entertainment with the launch of YouTube Sessions.

Billed as the online equivalent of an intimate pub gig, YouTube's Ernesto Soriano, announced the launch on Google's Australian blog yesterday.

''We’re proud to announce the launch of YouTube Sessions, an assortment of new music videos, premieres, exclusives, and of course a jam session or two with the artists you love and a few up and coming sensations,'' he said.

Australian pop singer Jessica Mauboy is the first artist to be featured on Sessions, and Google has invited users to put questions to Ms Mauboy via the site.

YouTube Sessions marks an interesting new direction for Google as a content creator - the search giant previously collated music videos posted by others on YouTube, but Sessions is the first time Google has created and posted its own music content.

Meantime, Australian Google Maps users are seeing a minor interface refresh. Links to traffic information, along with boxes allowing the user to choose between map, satellite and Google Earth views, have been rolled into a single ''cluster'' which expands to show a full range of options on mouse-over. The changes only appear to be available to Australian users at this point.

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