Google's Map Maker, an online application that lets people annotate and add cartographic drawings to Google Maps, is finally available for the U.S., after debuting in 183 countries since its launch in 2008.
Starting Tuesday, people will be able to click on an "edit" button when viewing the U.S, map in Google Maps and use Map Maker to fill out any missing details via labels and sketches.
For example, users will be able to add names of buildings that aren't identified, map out hiking or bike trails in a park and update changes in roads, such as when a two-way street becomes one way.
This ability for anyone to collaboratively edit Google Maps makes the maps "living and breathing" entities that are then constantly adapted to changes in the real world they depict, said Lalitesh Katragadda, Google Geo Team lead.
All changes are reviewed and approved by a Google quality assurance team, and they can also be evaluated by other users for accuracy. In order to use Map Maker, a user has to be logged into their Google account.
"Essentially we're allowing users to give us the next level of [map] details and share it with other users and also keep the map updated and fresh: those are the two core objectives," said Manik Gupta, Maps product manager.