Google Maps: Let's Take This Inside
For millions of commuters, Google Maps have been there, directing us, turn by turn, from freeway to roadway to byway through dark alleys and roundabouts, from our homes and offices to literally everywhere else.
Once we get to where we’re going, we tend to turn off Google Maps and put away our phones to navigate our way on foot through increasingly complex conference centers, airports and malls.
Now Google Maps wants to come along for the walk inside.
This morning, search users found a link under the simple Google Search box, inviting them to check out Google Maps for Indoors. With Indoor Maps, Android (and hopefully someday soon iPhone) users will be able to find stairs, elevators, restrooms and stores within malls, terminals within airports, dog walks at public parks and more.
There aren’t many of these maps built yet, but Indoor Maps allows building managers and owners to use their computers to create outlines of rooms, stores, departments and offices on their buildings, as displayed on Google Maps. Type in labels within the spaces, and help your customers find your space within even a skyscraper.
Google reminds its Maps users that their Inside Maps product is still in beta, so there are some kinks to work out, and provides a user forum for help when creating maps of one’s space. Submitted maps won’t show up for others to see immediately, as Google goes through an approval process for each Indoor Map. This makes sense, as no business owner wants someone else (especially a competitor or disgruntled ex-employee) defining their space.
So where could this go?
For years, mobile users have enjoyed finding advertised specials in those stores they check into using popular location-based services such as Foursquare. Indoor Maps just might put Google’s foot into the door a bit further, by adding highlighted advertisements to Maps users in their locality, and leading them to (and through) your store’s front door.
I'm looking forward to someone taking the time to make the Mall of America (above) easier to navigate using my phone, but I certainly don't envy the individual who has to map that baby out on Indoor Maps.
I suppose this might make the larger, scarier Halloween corn mazes a little less confusing next year, right?