Google Marks 15 Years Of Street View

A Google Maps logo. Credit: Google
A Google Maps logo. Credit: Google

 

 

Google celebrated on Tuesday 15 years since it kicked off its mammoth and hugely controversial effort to photograph streets in minute detail across the globe.

The panoramic images of Google Street View have slipped into daily life for millions — but during its early years it attracted countless court cases and howls of anguish from privacy campaigners.

The US tech giant is marking the anniversary by releasing a slew of new features, including an improved version of the “time travel” tool that allows users to see previous photos taken by Google’s cameras.

The firm also published lists of the most popular destinations for users — with Burj Khalifa in Dubai taking the top spot for buildings, followed by the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal.

Google said Indonesia was the most popular country for Street View, ahead of the United States, Japan, Mexico and Brazil.

The Indonesian capital Jakarta was the most searched city, beating Tokyo, Mexico City, Sao Paolo and Buenos Aires.

The firm boasted in a blog post that it had collected 220 billion images and travelled more than 10 million miles since the first images were released of cities including San Francisco, New York and Miami.

It has since provided armchair travellers with panoramic views everywhere from the peak of Everest to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef.

But as Google expanded its reach, it drew widespread criticism and years of scrutiny from regulators in several European countries — large parts of Germany are still absent from the tool.

It has also faced several embarrassing moments when inadvertently capturing images of a private nature.

In 2013, the firm photographed a couple having sex next to their car on an otherwise deserted road in Australia, and the picture briefly made it onto the platform.

Italian Mafia Boss Caught With Aid Of Google Maps

Gioacchino Gammino, 61, was arrested on December 17. Source: Google Maps/BBC
Gioacchino Gammino, 61, was arrested on December 17. Source: Google Maps/BBC

 

An Italian mafia boss has been arrested after he was sighted on Google Maps, a web mapping platform and consumer application offered by Google.

Gioacchino Gammino, 61, was arrested on December 17 but the news was first reported by Italian publication La Repubblica on Wednesday.

After his arrest, he reportedly told police: “How did you find me? I haven’t even called my family for 10 years.”

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He was found in Galapagar, Spain, where he was living under the name Manuel after escaping from a Rome prison in 2002 while serving a life sentence for murder.

According to the BBC, Gammino was a member of a Sicilian mafia group known as Stidda and was one of Italy’s most wanted gangsters.

He is now in custody in Spain and Italian police are hoping to repatriate him back to Italy by the end of February.

Google Maps To Begin Prioritising Eco-Friendly Routes

A Google Maps logo. Credit: Google
A Google Maps logo. Credit: Google

 

Google on Tuesday said it will start showing users of its free Maps navigation service travel routes less damaging to the environment as just one of some 100 coming upgrades.

Improvements to Google Maps tap into artificial intelligence for features including figuring out more fuel-efficient ways to get around.

“Soon, Google Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA (estimated arrival time) as the fastest route,” vice president of product Dane Glasgow said in a blog post.

“In cases where the eco-friendly route could significantly increase your ETA, we’ll let you compare the relative CO2 impact between routes so you can choose.”

Google worked with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab to build a routing system that takes into account traffic congestion and steepness of roads to minimize fuel consumption, according to Glasgow.

Google is also going to start alerting Maps users when a travel route is heading for a low-emission zone where higher-pollution vehicles such as diesel cars are not allowed.

Those alerts will launch in June on the Maps mobile app in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Maps was also tweaked to provide users more comprehensive views of travel options that may be more eco-friendly than driving.

And, air quality information along the way is being added to some routes displayed by Maps, launching firs in Australia, India, and the United States.

Google is also working to keep people on course once inside locations such as airports, shopping malls or train stations, according to Glasgow.

A Live View feature that already augments what Maps users see when looking through smartphone camera lenses will display arrows and other tips to guide them outside is getting an inside version.

“Live View can help you find the nearest elevator and escalators, your gate, platform, baggage claim, check-in counters, ticket office, restrooms, ATMs and more,” Glasgow said.

Inside Live View was added for some shopping malls in a handful of US cities and will roll out in coming months for select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich, according to Google.

Channels TV Mobile App Ranks First In Nigeria

Channels Television’s online platform has once again blazed the trail as its mobile phone application on the Apple and Google Play stores tops the chart of the most downloaded free applications in Nigeria.
Channels Tv’s application is ranked above social media giants Whatsapp, Instagram, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Plus and Skype.
Cable News Network (CNN) ranks 23rd on the ranking while the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) comes in at 173rd position.  Sports news agency Super Sport ranks 117th.
While in the world rankings, Channels TV mobile application is ranked 1st in Africa and 16th in the world.
The App is the most downloaded App in Nigeria ahead of CNN, BBC and Super Sport.

Apple Buys Silicon Valley Startup WiFiSlam

Apple has acquired a Silicon Valley startup, WiFiSlam, which makes mapping applications for smart phones.

Apple confirmed the acquisition, but declined to give details. The news was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, which quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying that Apple paid around $20 million for the company.

“Apple acquires smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” an Apple spokesman told Reuters.

WiFiSlam develops technology that provides indoor tracking and similar services. Big tech companies such as Apple and Google have been racing to provide more and better map applications for users. Google’s application, Google Maps, is widely accessed on Google’s Android platform and rival Apple’s rival iOS platform.