RAM: Directionally-Challenged?

Feel like a pizza, but don't know where to go? Check out Google Maps, which has been in beta since early this year, offers searches by address, name of business or category, and directions. In each, viewers can zoom in on a map, look at satellite imagery, or combine the two. Digital pushpins mark business locations. Running the cursor over one brings up contact information, as well as a link to driving directions, both to and from, and the ability to print or e-mail the map.

"One of the things that distinguishes us from the competition is that we've integrated local search directly into the mapping product," explains Bret Taylor, product manager for Google Maps. Combined with the satellite imagery, "that makes our set of queries and user traffic much more diverse." Also, when you click and drag the map, it only downloads the section you haven't seen yet, rather than the whole map, saving a lot of time, Taylor says.

Directions are currently the most popular feature on Google Maps, Taylor notes.

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