Google has added a new view option to the online Google Maps service. When viewing select cities in satellite mode, you can now see things from a 45 degree angle. When zooming into an area in satellite mode, the view will automatically switch to the new viewing angle. It can be toggled off by clicking the satellite mode button. This is similar to a feature Microsoft's Bing Maps has been using for some time.
This is more useful than the standard top down view in a number of situations. If you need to see what a particular area looks like, or want to check out some landmarks, this is much more detailed. Users can pan around to see objects from different angles with the compass icon.
Google was testing this feature in Google Labs for a few months, but now it is integrated into the Google Maps experience everyone sees. The imagery isn't really enabled in enough areas for it to be of use to most people, but Google has plans to expand it.
Any old GPS will save you time, but if you’re like me and are still clinging to an older model that doesn’t have real-time traffic data, you could be missing out. According to a new study conducted by NuStats, drivers who use real-time traffic enabled GPS’s save approximately four days per year in travel time vs. those who use nothing at all. The savings work out to an average of 18 percent per trip, and also yielded a CO2 savings of nearly 21 percent.
Participants in the study were broken down into three categories, drivers with no electronic navigation assistance, drivers with a GPS, and drivers who were using real-time traffic enabled devices. The survey participants made more than 2,100 individual trips, across approximately 20,000 kilometers of road.
These results sound great on paper, but it’s worth noting that even though the study itself was conducted by NuStats, the project was funded by NAVTEQ, a leading provider of real-time traffic data for GPS manufacturers such as Garmin. Does this shoot holes in the credibility of the study? Let us know what you think.
In the immortal words of Buckaroo Bonzai, “Wherever you go, there you are.” But if you want to know precisely where “there” is, you need a GPS device. Let’s examine how this technology operates.
The fundamental idea of a satellite-based navigation system was conceived prior to Word War II, but no one pursued the idea aggressively until the Russians launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. Research continued through the 1960s, and the U.S. Department of Defense settled on the first design in 1973.
The first developmental GPS satellite—Navstar 1—was launched in 1978, the first fully operational GPS satellite was put into orbit in 1989, and the system was declared fully operational in 1995. Although GPS remains an indispensable military tool (and is maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense), the technology was made available to consumers in the 1980s and can now be found in relatively inexpensive devices ranging from cellphones and PDAs to dedicated handheld GPS receivers.