31. May 2013–
Google is expanding Google Maps' interior business photo and bike direction features in a range of new countries in Europe including Germany.
As announced today, the Business Photos programme has arrived in Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. Companies in those countries can now hire photographers to use Google Street View to create and upload panoramic images, which will automatically appear in searches on Google.com, Google Maps, Google+ and Google Places for Business. It's a voluntary programme, not something Google does automatically, which will help keep privacy-conscious Europeans happy.
The (to us) much more exciting bike direction feature, announced earlier this week, is now switched on for Germany, France, Poland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. Thanks to the company's own data collection and partnership with local organisations, bike trails, lanes and recommended roads will now appear during directions searches on the map. Cyclists can upload their own recommendations using Google Mapmaker.
The Business Photos programme launched in the US and a handful of other countries in May 2011. Bike trails went live in several European countries in July 2012 but some without the biking directions feature switched on today. As The Next Web's Nick Summers noted this week, Google Maps is currently in a "refresh" period following the company's annual I/O developer conference in March.
Google will be hoping both roll out more smoothly in Germany than Street View, which recently caught it a $190,000 fine after collecting residents' Wi-Fi data without consent due to what the company said was an engineers' mistake back in 2006.
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