Google unveils widgets to personalize maps

Mapplets let users gather data from multiple sources

Google announced Wednesday new widgets called Mapplets that will let users gather data from multiple sources to personalize maps.

By adding mini-applications like real-time weather conditions or listings of local events, Google hopes to make it easier for non-technical users to easily build maps with dynamic content, according to a blog posting by Google product manager Thai Tran.

"We noticed many of these mashups simply displayed a static set of places on a map, such as the best bars in San Francisco, yet the authors had to set up a website and write Javascript code to generate the map, which is not something that we could expect the average person to do." Tran wrote. "We also noticed that much of this great content was not getting discovered, even though millions of users were coming to Google Maps every day and searching."

With the new Mapplets, a user looking for a home in Chicago could add Mapplets that display real estate listings and Chicago Transit Authority train lines, Tran said.

In a separate announcement, WeatherBug, which provides live local weather information online, said Wednesday that it has created a Mapplet for Google Maps that puts temperature markers on the map from WeatherBug's network of tracking stations and weather sensors worldwide.

The WeatherBug Mapplet also includes the delivery of severe weather alerts, traffic updates and live camera images the company said. When users click on temperature or camera icons on the map, additional content like wind direction, wind speed and weather alerts are displayed.

Mapplets can be accessed under a new "My Maps" tab at Google Maps that brings the Mapplets together with the first version of My Maps, which was released in April to allow users to drop place marks onto a map to create personalized map. Since the launch of the first version, more than 4 million maps have been created, according to Google.

A preview version of Mapplets announced in May resulted in more than 100 developers submitting Mapplets in a month, Google added

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
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