Google Maps is now mapping the indoors. I saw an ad for this while passing through MSP yesterday (given how much time I spend on the Internet, it's strange and a little embarrassing to learn about new things on the Internet from airport billboards), since one of their initial targets is the infamous Mall of America.
Detailed floor plans automatically appear when you’re viewing the map and zoomed in on a building where indoor map data is available. The familiar “blue dot” icon indicates your location within several meters, and when you move up or down a level in a building with multiple floors, the interface will automatically update to display which floor you’re on. All this is achieved by using an approach similar to that of ‘My Location’ for outdoor spaces, but fine tuned for indoors.
Thoughts about this:
- Okay, having a map of Ikea or an airport on my phone might be kind of nice.
- Shouldn't they have launched this years ago when people still went to malls?
- Shouldn't they have launched this at least earlier in the year, in time for people to know about it and have it before the one time each year when people who don't go to malls still maybe go to the mall?
- How does it know where you are, when cell and GPS so often don't work in these places? "fine tuned for indoors" is a very mysterious phrase. Based on nearby access points?
- Is your location also being transmitted if you use this service? In other words, will Google now know which stores you shop at, how many times you use the restroom, and whether you were actually shopping for gifts for other people?
- Relatedly, will this be free software? Or will it rely on proprietaryness in order to do things users would prefer it didn't do? (Answer: It's proprietary software, part of the existing proprietary Google Maps mobile application.)
- Will they sell data to the stores and malls?
- Will they start indicating various promotions on the maps?
- Will these promotions be targeted based on your past meandering behavior?
- Are they mapping less-commercial spaces, like museums?
- Are they making the map data available for others to use? Especially for truly public spaces?
- How do we get the functional part of this into OpenStreetMap?
- Is Google secretly working on computer-piloted mobility scooters?
- Where am I?
Title from John Ashbery