Google adds satellite images to maps

New feature gives people bird's eye view of locations they search for, as Net giant seeks to outdo rivals. Images: Google takes a satellite view

Google has added satellite technology to its mapping service, in a move to outdo competitors Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and others.

The new satellite feature allows consumers to get an aerial photo snapshot of the location for which they are searching. People can enter an address and click on the "Satellite" link to view an area, zoom in or see neighboring locations by moving the cursor.

Google satellite

"Thinking about spending time at the shore this summer? Search for hotels with Google Local and check out the 'beach' in 'beachfront,'" John Hanke, general manager of Google's Keyhole unit, wrote in a blog.

Satellite imaging company Keyhole, which Google acquired in October, provided the technology that allowed the search giant to launch the new mapping feature.

Aerial photos are just the latest tool Google has added to its search service as it battles it out with industry players such as Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and Microsoft. Google, which in February quietly released its Maps beta, is seeking to retain its top spot on the popularity charts, but Yahoo and Microsoft are gaining some ground.

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