Google Maps has become one of the dominant sources of maps for people over the past few years. It has really been giving MapQuest a run for its money. When people want to get directions, get an aerial or street view of a location, Google Maps is a one stop free shop. Google made a huge announcement today. Adding to their mapping service, Google now has Business Photos. Google Business Photos for Maps allows users to view the interior of a business, with the consent of the business of course. Instead of just viewing the exterior, users can now get a detailed glimpse of the businesses that they wish to visit.
To get these images, the business must offer Google several photos. Google will then combine the images to form a 360-degree rotating image. Users can enter a business and get a realistic idea of the look and ambiance of the space. This tool is primarily geared towards businesses that rely on how people view their interior. Hospitality focused businesses like hotels, restaurants, salons and bars would certainly benefit from offering online searchers an easily accessible glimpse into their establishment from their computer, tablet or smart phone. Many people prefer to have an idea of the kind of place they are visiting before they go. What better way to remove the mystery than by providing images.
Google has been looking for innovative ways to increase the use of their Maps feature. The feature was recently revealed at the Social-Loca conference held in San Francisco. The first countries that will be able to use the feature include the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Many more countries are slated to have the service in the weeks ahead.
I absolutely love that this feature is controlled by businesses. Google has been getting into a lot of trouble lately in regards to the methods that they employ to capture, store and use images. Many European countries have filed complaints against Google because of the intrusiveness of the Maps feature. France, like other countries, has tried to preserve the privacy of their citizens. In this situation, Business Photos for Maps is totally different. Business owners can opt to participate at their discretion. Images can only be provided by business owners that wish to benefit from the feature. If people are included in the photographs, I can only imagine that a release must be signed. I predict that a lot of service oriented businesses will only have images that don’t have people in it.
Many other kinds of businesses will probably choose not to participate in this service. Industries and businesses that value design, atmosphere and style will be more likely to turn in their photos as soon as possible.