Google adds indoor maps for iPhone, iPad and other Web users

About 10,000 floor plans can now be accessed via a browser

Google has added indoor floor plans to the Web version of its Maps service, allowing any device with a browser to show the way in airports, rail stations, shopping malls and museums in nine countries.

The indoor maps have previously been available on the Google Maps application for Android, but the addition of the Web interface means they can be accessed on Apple's iPad and other devices not running Google's OS.

About 10,000 floor plans of places in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. are available. Famous ones include the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, the Wembley Stadium in London and Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, according to a list published by Google.

Users can zoom in on a building on Google Maps and see a floor plan with labels for gates at airports, stores within a mall, departments within a retail shop, as well as ATMs, restrooms and more, according to Google.

Venue owners interested in adding their locations can use the Google Maps Floor Plan tool, which is still only available in a beta version, to upload a map. Google is still working out the kinks in how incoming floor plans are processed, so the company can't give estimates on how long it will take for new plans to appear, it said.

A lot has been happening in mapping and navigation sector lately, including this week's launch of Nokia's Here application for iOS, which will compete with Apple's own service.

Whether Google too will launch an app for iOS remains to be seen. But a report this week suggests that the company is close to doing so, and has started distributing a test version.

Vendors are showing a growing interest in offering not just indoor maps but indoor navigation, as well. Cisco Systems and Qualcomm announced a partnership last week to combine technology from both companies to improve the accuracy of such services.

Finding out where you are in a mall or a sports arena using a smartphone is difficult today because GPS coverage usually isn't available.

Qualcomm is also a member of the In-Location Alliance, which will also work to improve the accuracy of indoor positioning using Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi. Other members of the group include Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Sony.

Google has its own plans. The Maps Floor Plan Marker app, which shows users their location more accurately within indoor venues, can be downloaded from the Play store.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Mikael Ricknäs

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