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Google Maps adds user-created photos, videos, maps

New feature enables users to explore areas around the world by bringing up video, photos, and interactive maps of a particular location.

Google Maps launched a new feature on Wednesday that shows you photos, videos, and maps that people have created about different locations around the world.

After typing in a city or address there is a new "Explore this area" link near the top left. Clicking on that brings up thumbnails of photos and videos with links to more of each, as well as custom maps for that location.

For instance, a search on San Francisco brings up photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city enveloped in fog (a not uncommon sight), and sunsets. There are videos of penguin chicks at the San Francisco Zoo and video from a YouTube user event.


Underneath that is a list of popular searches (such as parking garage, De Young Museum) for the location and then user-created interactive maps, including one showing the scenic 49-mile drive and car chases from the movie "Bullitt."

Dragging and zooming in on the map brings up different options for those results, and clicking on the icons on the map brings up a pop-up box with more information.

In separate but map-related developments this week, Google also has added real estate listings to maps and has been testing face-blurring technology in Street View.

The news is coming out of the Where 2.0 conference in Burlingame, Calif., where Poly9 unveiled on Tuesday a Flash-based Google Earth competitor, Free Earth, which doesn't require a client-side download.