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Google Maps now offers directions inside major public buildings

November 30, 2011|By Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times

Google is bringing its mapping technology to the great indoors.

With the launch of Google Maps 6.0 on Tuesday, users of mobile devices running Android OS 2.1 and up will have the ability to use Google Maps not just to get directions to an Ikea, Macy's or one of several airports but also to figure out how to find housewares, ATMs and their airline boarding gates.

Google's inside mapping will work like its outside mapping. A little blue dot will move along with users to show where they are, and the technology is even able to know what floor they are on — what Steve Lee, director of product management for Google, called "the third dimension of mapping."

But there are a few caveats. The release is limited. Although Google's launch partners include 18 U.S. airports — notably some of the biggest, such as Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and San Francisco International Airport — Los Angeles and JFK international airports are still not available.

Some big-box stores such as Ikea, Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Home Depot have already been mapped, but Target and Wal-Mart haven't been. And not nearly as many malls as shoppers might like to see, especially in this holiday season.

"While we are super proud of this launch, it is still a small slice of indoor public spaces in the world," Lee said. "The goal is to get to where we can deliver detailed maps for all indoor spaces."

Another limitation: Google Maps 6.0 is available only for Android phones. A Google spokeswoman said there is still no specific timing for when indoor maps will be available for non-Android platforms such as the iPhone.

deborah.netburn@latimes.com

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