Lighting up Google Maps with the aurora borealis

Nature’s greatest light show has come to Google Maps for the first time. Starting today, armchair arctic explorers, science lovers and curious observers will be able to explore the Northern Lights in Finland right from Google Maps.

Also known as the aurora borealis (after Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Boreas, the Greek name for north wind), these dazzling lights are the effect of charged particles interacting with one another in earth’s atmosphere. These light displays have long been a source of wonder for poets and travelers gazing up at the otherworldly colors in stark contrast with the austere, arctic terrain. However, they can only be seen in person at certain latitudes and times of year, making this breathtaking sight a rare experience for most of us.

To see more views of the Northern Lights, explore the Google Maps gallery. Click across the frozen lake in Finland where these shots were captured, and take in the awe-inspiring views above.

Posted by Magdalena Filak, Google Maps Street View Associate Program Manager Continua a leggere

Ho Ho Ho! Track Santa around the world with Santa Tracker

After 23 days of preparation, the elves are finally ready for Santa’s annual journey around the globe. They’ve taught each other how to say “Santa Claus” in Swedish, guided their friends through mazes with code, brushed up on their geography, and learned about organizations making a difference worldwide. It’s been a busy month, but Santa’s sleigh is now ready for lift-off!

The elves brushed up on coding fundamentals with blockly maze games

The elves decorated their trees with ornaments about organizations making a difference

Each stop on Santa’s journey offers more to explore—discover 360-degree imagery, Wikipedia snippets, geography facts, and updates on how far Santa’s current location is from yours (take note—Santa’s path is not a direct one!). Come back and visit throughout the night for more surprises, like sleigh selfies or a latitude and longitude game to deliver presents.

Follow Santa on any screen—desktop, phone, tablet, or TV

If you’re on the ho-ho-go, download the Santa Tracker App for Android to keep track of Santa on your phone or tablet. With the Android app, watch Santa’s journey on your TV using Chromecast, or on your wrist with Android Wear (especially handy when wrapping last-minute gifts). And, you can always search for Santa on or on Google Maps, and get real-time location updates with Google Now in the Google App.

Santa’s available at the flick of the wrist with Android Wear

Santa’s got a long and exciting night ahead of him before heading back to the North Pole. Grab some eggnog, set out the cookies, and join Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter to #tracksanta!

Posted by Brendan Kenny, Reindeer Platform Engineer Continua a leggere

Life in the fast lane: lane guidance for drivers in Google Maps

Over the holiday season, if you’re driving back home to see family, or meeting up with friends, you can get where you want to go quickly and easily using voice-guided navigation in Google Maps — now with helpful lane guidance for highways in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and Ireland.

When you’re in the turn-by-turn navigation mode, we can now make sure you don’t miss your next turn or exit by showing you which lane to stay in or move to so you’ll never find yourself darting across traffic at the last minute — or worse, driving for miles down the wrong road. When you approach a junction or exit with multiple lanes, voice guidance will suggest which lanes are best for your route. You’ll also have easy access to alternate routes while you’re navigating, so you can choose the best drive for you.

To access turn-by-turn Navigation, open the Google Maps app on Android or iPhone and get directions to a location. Then simply touch the Navigation icon to hear voice-guided directions, complete with lane guidance. (Of course, don’t forget to enable GPS on your device to use Navigation.) For more information on navigation and lane guidance, see our help page.

Safe travels!

Posted by Darren Baker, product manager, Google Maps Continua a leggere

Launching new features for bicyclists

While the Tour de France may just have completed its final lap around the Champs Elysees, our Maps team continues to pedal ahead at top speed. Want to avoid that brutal Mountain Stage while you’re cycling to work? The latest version of GoogleMaps forAndroid update puts elevations in bike directions, so you can arrive with leg muscles intact.

We first added biking directions three years ago to our maps for a number of countries in Europe, from Austria to the United Kingdom. It proved to be a popular feature among cycling amateurs and enthusiasts and we’ve expanded the product to cover almost the entire continent. Enthusiastic users have added hundreds of kilometers of biking paths through Google Mapmaker.

We’re also innovating before you hop onto the cycle. Do you sometimes get a sudden urge for a pizza or a banana split? The improved GoogleMaps for desktop lets you click and drag to measure your next road trip, bike ride or run—even if you’re taking a few sharp turns.

Oh, and what about the Tour de France? With the race over, you might want to relive its high moments, visiting the routes the riders took up the same mountains with StreetView, starting in Saint-Étienne and climbing into the Alps to finish at Chamrousse. And if you want to say au revoir to Le Tour de France, look below, or click on an EarthView on the Champs Élysées.

Posted by Gareth Evans, Communications Manager, London
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Pubblicato in Maps

Get a front seat to the World Cup

The world’s biggest soccer tournament is here. Whether you’re watching from the comfort of your couch or packing your bags for Brazil, Google Maps is your ticket to the games. To kick off the tournament, starting today you can explore all 12 stadiums and the iconic painted streets, one of Brazil’s tournament traditions, in Street View which serves as a digital legacy of the 2014 games for years to come.

Exploring the sights and culture of this year’s football tournament has never been easier with Street View in Google Maps.

Rua Professor Eurico Rabelo – Maracanã, RJ

Rua Padre Agostinho Poncet, São Paulo, Brazil

In addition to the stadiums and painted streets, images from hundreds of sites across Brazil, including Iguaçu National Park and St. Michael of the Missions, are also now available on Google Maps.

And if you’re lucky enough to have a physical ticket to Brazil, don’t forget to pack Google Maps for mobile.

  • Transit: With Google Maps transit available in all 12 host cities, Brazilians and visitors alike can rest assured they can make it to the stadium and other destinations routing the best path by bus or train.
  • Indoor Maps: Make your way through more than 100 venues across Brazil, including airports, shopping malls and, yes, tournament stadiums with Indoor Maps.
  • Turn-by-turn navigation: Zip through Brazil from Point A to Point B with Google Maps for mobile, giving you the most accurate traffic info, including real-time incident reports from Waze, and voice-guided directions.

Even if we can’t help your favorite team find their way to victory, Google Maps is ready for the assist. You might be (or get) lost without it!

Post content Posted by Deanna Yick, Google Street View Program Manager
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Become a cartographer: help us improve Europe’s maps

Maps are no longer static paper records, but living, breathing representations of our world. Places around us are constantly changing — while mountains don’t move, roads are rerouted, homes are built, shops open and close. Many times, the best way to keep Google Maps fresh and up to date is by allowing anyone, anywhere with an Internet connection to contribute to the map using their knowledge of the areas they know best. So we’re delighted that Google Map Maker is now available for budding cartographers to edit our maps of Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

With Map Maker, everyone can contribute your local expertise to make an even more comprehensive, useful and interesting map. Begin in your town or village and try adding the outlines or ‘footprints’ of local shops, restaurants and other businesses. Then help enrich the maps of national parks, or add leisure facilities and historic landmarks. If you enjoy the great outdoors, try adding campsites, beautiful beaches or your favorite cycling paths.

Whether you add a biking route through Tallinn or a landmark in Vilnius, each improvement to the map will help locals and tourists alike better understand the area and discover new things to do. Once approved, your contributions will appear on Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Maps for mobile.

The map of Korčula, Croatia, often cited as the birthplace of Marco Polo, before and after Map Maker edits

To get started, visit our Google Map Maker community forum and see the Help Centre for tips and tricks, or watch mapping in real-time with Map Maker Pulse. Happy mapping!

Posted by Nicole Drobeck, Map Maker Community Manager
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Ski with Street View

Europe’s ski season is moving into high gear, making it a perfect moment for us to help you explore some of the continent’s best resorts and runs. We’ve taken our Street View snowmobile to the slopes and have launched new imagery of some great pistes in Italy, France, Andorra and Spain.

Italy: From the western border between Italy and France in La Thuile to Siusi, Pusteria and Kronplatz in the eastern Dolomite Stations south of Austria, we are bringing online a total of eight Italian ski resorts. Take a look where the pros will head down the pistes at Bormio, which hosts a World Cup stop on December 29.

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France: Val Thorens is one of the highest stations in Europe, while Les Gets opens up to the 600 kilometers of slopes on the Portes du Soleil.

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Spain: The Pyrenees boasts some great skiing and we feature Estació de Esqui de Masella.

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Andorra: The small state of Andorra is home to a lot of skiing. We are bringing online two Alpine resorts Estació Esquí de Grandvalira and Estació Esquí de Vallnord. Together they cover more than 300 kilometers of slopes. You can also explore Nordic skiing facilities at Estació Esquí de fons de Naturlandia.

Check out the slopes online, pick up your skis and head to the mountains.

Posted by Ulf Spitzer, Street View Program Manager, Zurich
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Visiting the Vatican’s ancient catacombs

They date back almost 2000 years, to the roots of the Christianity, and are dug deep into the ground by the Romans. Now, thanks to Google Maps, anyone can take a virtual visit of the early Christian burial sites in the ancient Priscilla catacombs and Dino Compagni catacombs.

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Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Commission of Culture and of the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology, which oversaw the catacombs restoration, first suggested the project to us in 2011. During the inauguration of the revamped museum of the Catacombs of Priscilla, the Cardinal said our project closed “the gap” between “two extremes, remote antiquity and today’s contemporary world.”

What our ancestors created is astounding. Restorers uncovered vivid late fourth-century frescoes depicting Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and Saints Peter and Paul accompanying Christians into the afterlife. Jesus’ face resembles portraits of the Emperor Constantine, who legalized Christian worship in 313. Users of Google Maps can now click the “see-inside” option for the catacombs, which allows them to move virtually through the narrow corridors tunneled out of soft tufa stone, and to see high-resolution images of the interiors from practically every angle.

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The artwork has spurred a fascinating debate. One fresco features a group of women celebrating a banquet and another shows a woman, dressed in robe and praying. Advocates for the ordination of women say it bolsters their assertions that women served as priests in the early church. But Fabrizio Bisconti, the superintendent of the Vatican’s sacred archaeology commission, has said the women weren’t celebrating Mass.

Whatever the truth, we are happy to contribute to art and culture. As this exciting project demonstrates, the Internet provides an extraordinary resource to make masterpieces available all around the world, or even under-earth!

Posted by Giorgia Abeltino, Google Senior Policy Counsel, Rome
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Slovakia’s Eagle flies high with the Internet

It has been an audacious flight, monitored and protected by the Internet. Slovakia’s Lesser Spotted Eagle risked extinction until the Slovak Ministry of Environment and the Tatra National Park launched an ambitious preservation project. Under the seven year old program, young eagles are fitted with transmitters and systematically monitored. This year, we partnered with the Ministry and the National park, offering Google Earth to track an eagle named “Arnold” in an attempt to keep him safe on his its migration route to South Africa.

So far, four million views have been recorded tracking Arnold’s path south into Africa. National television broadcasts weekly updates headlined “Follow the Slovak Eagle.” Earlier this month, the bird vanished near the Kundelungu National Park in Congo. Arnold’s followers became increasingly worried that something bad had happened to him. But after 14 days of silence, Arnold’s transmitter signal reappeared this week from Zambia.

In less than a decade, the preservation project has managed to save 15 Lesser Spotted Eagles and stabilize their total population in Slovakia. Baby eaglets are collected from nests, carefully picked out in advance, when they are approximately five days old, in order to prevent their murder by parents. They then temporarily placed in a Rescue Station where a foster mother takes care of them and feeds them. When the young birds can feed by themselves and regulate their body temperature, they are released into the wild.

Now, thanks to the Internet, they can continue to be followed and protected. The Tatra National Park plans to reach out to other national park administrations in the European Union to speak about their lessons learned and promote the use of the internet in forestry

Posted by Ondrej Socuvka, Policy Manager Google Slovakia
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Debating the German General Election

The Internet allows new and fascinating exchanges between citizens and politics. For Germany’s upcoming September 22 general election, we launched this weeka map to help German voters find information about the the country’s 299 voting districts and learn about the candidates in all of Germany’s electoral district. On election night, the map will display official results.

This new feature adds to our recently launched Election Page which aims to allow voters to make informed choices. Our motto is “2013+you. It’s your election. Take part in the discussion.” The page tracks the campaign’s hottest topics with news, video and other links. It includes a new debating tool on Google+ that allows anybody, with just a few clicks, to participate in discussions and join the German language Google+ Community, “Politics & Elections.”

A new series of “Hangouts” with politicians are being held on blogger Tilo Jung’s “Jung & Naiv” site. In these video chats, he addresses young, often first-time voters. Tilo already has hosted Pirate party politician Marina Weisband and Social Democrat Chancellor Candidate, Peer Steinbrück.

Another election partner, provides for the selection of editorial content on Much more is planned: we will continue to provide interesting Google search trends. And on election night we will provide fresh election results as they come. Keep coming to our election page and participate!

Posted by Ralf Bremer, Senior Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Berlin
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