Less than a month after Google rebranded its maps as Google Local, Yahoo is tweaking its online maps and linking them to local searches. As with Google Local, you can hold down the mouse and slide around the Yahoo Maps beta without waiting for the screen to refresh, and zoom in or out with a slider bar. Driving directions within the Yahoo Maps beta now guide you through multiple stops, which harried working parents and business travelers should appreciate. From a map, you can drag and drop addresses into search fields to find directions. This tool also saves favorite locations for future returns. Yahoo lets you switch back to its older maps, but so far we're finding the new version more elegant.
The strategy of integrating maps with local search hopes to reap advertising profits from businesses looking for attention. Look up apple in your city for instance, and you'll retrieve a list of companies branded with that word, such as an Apple computer store and a Golden Apple Restaurant. This type of search also maps out shops, such as Best Buy, that stock products with apple in their name.
If you're feeling adventurous, Yahoo provides an API to let you tailor the maps to your liking, as fans of Google Maps have done to chart subway routes, jobs, Wi-Fi hot spots, and much more. (On an odd note, blogger Matt Cutts found that you'll reach The Dude's Fish Store if you type in the address of Google's Mountain View, California, headquarters. A prank?)