Google Launches MyMaps

Tonight Google launched MyMaps. It adds the ability to create and share maps directly from Google’s site (you can see a map that I created above). These maps will be added to Google geoindex and will be available to search in Google Earth and in Local Search. These maps will be syndicated via KML; support for GeoRSS syndication is coming (not surprising given that GeoRSS can be consumed by these maps – Radar post).

Users are able to create their own maps and mark them public or private. The annotation tools that are provided are very simple and easy to use. Users are able to add lines, polygons and placemarks. They can edit those placemarks with HTML, images, and video. Once a map is created it is very easy to share it and syndicate it via KML. Items found during a local search can be added to a map with a click. Places found via GeoRSS or KML files can also be added to a map. These are good first steps in the annotation space but, both Live’s and Ask’s recent releases show that there is a lot more that can be done with this feature.

When I spoke to Google about this release they positioned it as a way to let anyone create mashups even if they don’t know Javascript. I think this is true. Many users will like that they can create their own maps and share them all from Google. This is a direct shot across the bow of sites like Platial and Frappr that are using Google’s Mapping API to allow users to create and share their own maps.

The annotations, though necessary, are not what’s impressive about this release, it’s what’s now under the hood of their search engine. They are adding all geo-indexed web pages to their local search (the same geo-index that was added to Google Earth recently – Radar post 1 & 2). A web page is geo-indexed via an associated KML file. All publicly shared MyMaps will be in the index. No other search engine does this. Platial syndicates their content via KML and you can find it in Google’s new search, perhaps the additional search traffic will make up for any lost map creation users.

The geo-indexed results will show up below the Yellow Pages results in local search (they are listed as “user-created content”). They are going to be used in countries where there currently is not a local search (all but ten). There are a lot of KML files on the web (831,000 by their search). I think that this release will further push site creators to add KML and GeoRSS as a syndication format; this latest move will make it foolish for a content creation site that has geo content to not syndicate via KML and GeoRSS.

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