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Google Enhances Mapping as Competition Encroaches

Google has improved its indoor mapping functionality via a new app.

Google released its indoor maps for Android last November, along with Google Maps Floor Plans–a tool for business owners to upload the floor plans for their venue and have them appear in Google Maps for Android. The newly-released Google Maps Floor Plan Marker app, available through Google Play, collects data from sources such as GPS, cell tower, and publicly broadcast WiFi information and then guides the business owner as he or she walks around the entire surface of the place to develop a map for users.

Customers will be able to see which floor they’re on in buildings with multiple floors. The map will automatically update to the right floor if they go up or down a level. Considering the challenges that still exit with indoor mapping technology, this is a welcome advancement, however TechCrunch foresees even better enhancements–if Google would cooperate.

A fully crowdsourced version of this app, plus a few gamification elements or other rewards, would draw in an army of volunteers to increase its reach, it said.

Competition from OpenStreetMap 

Google may want to considered additional enhancements as competition in this space that it once dominated looms. OpenStreetMap, a crowdsourced alternative mapping project has been snagging high profile users lately, most recently Wikipedia, Talking Points Memo notes.

"For OSM, we see this as validation — another of the world’s biggest sites has decided that OSM data is worth switching to," Richard Fairhurst, an OpenStreetMap foundation board member, told the publication. "We’re sure it will bring more contributors to add their local knowledge to OSM, and so it continues - very much a virtuous circle."

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