Google, the world’s largest internet search operator, is bringing one of the most useful features to bikers using its Google Maps service. While cycling can be fun, sometimes an arbitrary hill climb can be a challenging task. But it appears that Google has finally come up with a fix for that, not essentially helping you get the bike to the top of the hill, but by showing an upcoming elevation in Google Maps’ bike routes. The app now features elevation statistics to help bikers tackle steep hills.
Google did not officially announce the feature but confirmed to TechCrunch that the addition is indeed new to Maps. The Mountain View, California based tech giant has offered GPS functionality for bikers for few years now, but helped not more than being a map.
Bikers can simple select a bike route on the map and Google will find the directions for the destination. Following the update, information showing an elevation and descent will populate. In addition to the graphical representation of the hill, Google also displays a card to show the number of feet a biker must climb before reaching the top and descend through the other side.
Google will not display any elevation statistics when bikers are riding on flat roads. Google also confirmed to the tech blog that the new feature is available in all 14 countries where the biking directions are available on Maps, including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden and the US.
Google has been updating its mapping service quite frequently, of late. Earlier this month, the web giant added offline support for Google Maps, integrated Uber taxi service, improved local business search and more. These changes show how badly Google wants to stay ahead of its rivals, such as Nokia and Apple. The addition of more features to make the service useful for end users is surely an added advantage.
Phi Beta Iota: We have been scathingly critical oF Google for not making sense and doing great evil, inclusive of its incetuous relationships with CIA and NSA. However, GoogleMaps and GoogleEarth (and some but not all of Google’s computational mathematics) are such stellar achievements as to leave one breathless with admiration for curent and future prospects of this element of Google. The next big leap will occur on a geospatial foundation and the NationaL Geospatial Agency (NGA) will not be part of it. Either CrisisMappers or GoogleEarth is going to figure out how to create an open source unstructured database amenable to crowd-sourcing that allows the tiling feature to ingest all forms of data, not just geospatial data. It may be that this will become the foundation for third party applications that make sense, at which point most secret intelligence communities will be largely worthless and unable to hide their incompetence in the face of ethical evidence-based decision support on a geospatial foundation. It will also transfer agency back to the public — consumers, not producers, will begin to drive the economy. Advertising will become noise to be eradicated. Education will be persistent and ubiquitous. Research will be multidisciplinary and multidomain at all times, or scorned for being retarded. Bravo, Google.
PS: Military charts with cultural features and contour lines are easily embedded on top of GoogleEarth. Too many people do not know that. Elements of the US Army do, and are creating some sensational applications out of hide that call into question existing investments in “analysis” systems that simply do not work and should be retired in favor of open source combinations that can be shared outside the Army while keeping Army data totally secure (secure and secret are antonymns).