Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Google feature incorporates satellite maps

Filed under
Web
Sci/Tech

Online search engine leader Google has unveiled a new feature that will enable its users to zoom in on homes and businesses using satellite images, an advance that may raise privacy concerns as well as intensify the competitive pressures on its rivals.

The satellite technology, which Google began offering late Monday at http://maps.google.com, is part of the package that the Mountain View-based company acquired when it bought digital map maker Keyhole Corp. for an undisclosed amount nearly six months ago.

This marks the first time since the deal closed that Google has offered free access to Keyhole's high-tech maps through its search engine. Users previously had to pay $29.95 to download a version of Keyhole's basic software package.

A more traditional map will continue to be the first choice served up by Google's search engine. Users will have the option of retrieving a satellite picture by clicking on a button.

The satellite maps could unnerve some people, even as the technology impresses others. That's because the Keyhole technology is designed to provide close-up perspective of specific addresses.

Keyhole's previous government ties also have raised anxieties.

Founded in 2001, Keyhole raised some money in 2003 from In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Leading up to the Google sale, Keyhole's roughly 10,000 customers included a cross-section of government agencies.

There is little reason for people to be paranoid about the satellite maps because the images generally are six to 12 months old, said John Hanke, Keyhole's general manager. "And it's not like you are going to be able to read a license plate on a car or see what an individual was doing when a particular image was taken," he said.

Google believes most people will like the convenience of generating a satellite image with a few clicks of a computer mouse. The company envisions people using the service as a way to scout a hotel's proximity to the beach for a possible vacation or size up the neighborhood where an apartment is for rent.

Google's free satellite maps initially will be limited to North America, with images covering roughly half the United States, Hanke said.

Although Google is offering the satellite maps on a test basis, the feature will probably force its other online rivals to upgrade their technology, predicted search industry analyst Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group. "To play in this space, you are going to need some robust mapping capabilities."

Sterling said Google's satellite maps pose the biggest threat to Mapquest, a service owned by Time Warner Corp. that has long operated the most popular Web site for finding directions.

The satellite maps also up the ante for the many challengers chipping away at Google's share of the lucrative Internet search engine market by adding more bells and whistles. For instance, Amazon.com Inc.'s A9 search engine earlier this year introduced a feature that includes an index containing 20 million street-level photographs of building exteriors in 10 major U.S. cities.

Source.

More in Tux Machines

Kernel Space/Linux

Leftovers: Software

  • KDE Kirigami 1.1 UI Framework Released
  • [GNOME Maps:] Planning a trip
  • Etcher Image Writer Is Now Better Than Ever
    Back in may we spotlighted Etcher, a stylish open-source USB image writer app for Windows, macOS and Linux. In the months since our feature the app has released a over 10 small beta updates, with Etcher 1.5 Beta being the most recent release at the time of writing.
  • Audacious 3.8 released
    Audacious 3.8 was released on September 21, 2016.
  • New Version of Audacious Music Player Released
    A new version of Audacious, a popular lightweight audio player, is now available for download. Audacious 3.8 introduces a small set of features, including the ability to run more than one instance of the app at the same time. Quite why… no idea. New audtool commands have been added, including stream recording toggles, and cue sheet support is said to be “more seamless”.
  • Rambox Puts All Your Favorite Messaging Services In One App
    Rambox is a free, open-source messaging and email app that groups all your favourite web apps into one easy-to-manage window. Sound familiar? We’ve highlighted apps like Rambox before, with Franz and the Gmail-specific Wmail being but two.
  • Stylish Markdown Editor ‘Typora’ Is Now Available for Ubuntu
    In the market for a desktop markdown editor for Linux? You may have helped but notice that you’re rather spoilt for choice. From Abricotine and Scratch to Simplenote, Springseed and Remarkable. Even Gedit can render markdown with the right plugin! With so much choice it can be difficult to know which app to pick.
  • YoutPlayer Floats Your Fave YouTube Videos on The Desktop [Ed: just an Electron app]
    Looking for a neat-o way to play YouTube playlists on your desktop, outside your browser? Take a looksie at Yout, an Electron app that lets you add and watch YouTube playlists on your desktop, floating window stylee. Yout is not the most user-friendly of apps.

today's howtos

Leftovers: Gaming

  • Avoid the pile-up in 'Clustertruck', a first-person platformer with day-1 Linux support, it's great
    We have been steadily getting more 3D "beat the timer" games where you're up against others times, which is great because they really can be fun. I do love getting competitive in certain games, especially with some of my Steam friends and friends in the wider community. Games like this recently have been something I've been repeatedly going back to for a break from life. Clustertruck is not only about beating the times of other people, but it's also a "the floor is lava" game, so if you touch the floor you have to start again. The really funny thing is that the safe pads are moving trucks you have to keep up with. You can at least grab onto the back of a truck if you just about touch it, so it's not always instant death.
  • Fusion 3, the next generation game engine and editor from Clickteam will support Linux
    The difference between their tools and others, is the event system. Instead of needing to program every single line, you can stack up events and link them together to create a game. It works quite well and I'm pretty excited to give Fusion 3 a go on Linux myself to see what random games I can create for fun.