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More mashing of Google Maps

New Google Maps feature lets people create customized maps with content from different mashup sites.

Google Maps is launching a new feature Wednesday that enables people to create customized maps with content from multiple mashup Web sites.

For instance, I made my own map of San Francisco with an events search from Zvents (salsa dancing Monday at the Jewish Community Center, for example); Google Real Estate Search (there's a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment in San Francisco's Mission District selling for a mere $389,500); temperatures from WeatherBug (62 degrees in downtown San Francisco); prices at gas stations near my office from GasBuddy ($3.79 a gallon at the Shell on Bryant and 4th Street); and running routes from MapMyRun. But right now, nothing to help me map my bike route to work.

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Users can browse the 100 or so maplets for content to add to their maps. There aren't necessarily a lot of maplets available right now, but I'm sure the list will grow. For instance, searching for "bike" there was only bike path maplets for Boulder, Colo., and New York City. But residents of Tokyo and Santiago, Chile, will benefit from having access to their subway maps available.

Google has distributed more than 50,000 Google Maps API keys, said Thai Tran, a product manager for Google Maps. Creators of existing Google mashup Web sites can modify their code slightly and add it to the Google maplet gallery so it can be combined with other mashups on anyone's personal map, he said.

Google is really pushing the mapping envelope. In April, the company introduced a feature that lets people add their own text, photos and video to customized maps, in essence enabling anyone to create a mashup. A few weeks ago, the company unveiled a feature that lets people click and drag to change the Google Maps driving directions.