Well Google maps are not exactly news right now. But it has quickly become one of the most popular mapping websites on the internet. The thing I like about this is that Google’s innovation IMHO has inspired further innovation.
Yahoo has come out with its new mapping website which uses flash and Microsoft has come up with Virtual Earth. New competitors have also entered the fray with A9 from Amazon and the new kid on the block is Ask.com (formerly Ask Jeeves – but thats a whole other post :-) )
Yahoo has introduced a mapping api for flash and ajax, Microsoft has some great imagery and nice navigation in Virtual Earth (as has Ask) and A9 has included an innovative way of displaying images of street corners and buildings along the sides of roads.
So what does all this mean for us developers? I believe this means that one more incredible dimension has been opened for us. No longer is data about location (like addresses) limited to being communicated textually. We can visually represent a location within the context of its surroundings. This context is important because we get a plethora of information about a location from its surroundings. For example: we can now tell if an address is a residential address in a suburb (need to keep a sharp eye out for the house number) or one that is located downtown (if its near a bus station don’t need to drive). Another advantage is the ability to overlay other important information about the location, like weather and traffic for example.