The aurora borealis lights up Google Maps

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Nature’s greatest light show has come to Google Maps for the first time. Starting today, armchair arctic explorers, science lovers and curious observers will be able to explore the Northern Lights in Finland right from Google Maps.

Also known as the aurora borealis (after Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Boreas, the Greek name for north wind), these dazzling lights are the effect of charged particles interacting with one another in earth’s atmosphere. These light displays have long been a source of wonder for poets and travelers gazing up at the otherworldly colors in stark contrast with the austere, arctic terrain. However, they can only be seen in person at certain latitudes and times of year, making this breathtaking sight a rare experience for most of us.

To see more views of the Northern Lights, explore the Google Maps gallery. Click across the frozen lake in Finland where these shots were captured, and take in the awe-inspiring views above.

Ho Ho Ho! Track Santa around the world with Google’s Santa Tracker

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 2:00 AM

After 23 days of preparation, the elves are finally ready for Santa’s annual journey around the globe. They’ve taught each other how to say "Santa Claus" in Swedish, guided their friends through mazes with code, brushed up on their geography, and learned about organizations making a difference worldwide. It’s been a busy month, but Santa’s sleigh is now ready for lift-off!
The elves brushed up on coding fundamentals with blockly maze games

The elves decorated their trees with ornaments about organizations making a difference

Each stop on Santa’s journey offers more to explore—discover 360-degree imagery, Wikipedia snippets, geography facts, and updates on how far Santa’s current location is from yours (take note—Santa’s path is not a direct one!). Come back and visit throughout the night for more surprises, like sleigh selfies or a latitude and longitude game to deliver presents.
Follow Santa on any screen—desktop, phone, tablet, or TV

If you’re on the ho-ho-go, download the Santa Tracker App for Android to keep track of Santa on your phone or tablet. With the Android app, watch Santa’s journey on your TV using Chromecast, or on your wrist with Android Wear (especially handy when wrapping last-minute gifts). And, you can always search for Santa on or on Google Maps, and get real-time location updates with Google Now in the Google App.

Santa’s available at the flick of the wrist with Android Wear

Santa’s got a long and exciting night ahead of him before heading back to the North Pole. Grab some eggnog, set out the cookies, and join Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter to #tracksanta!

Do some holiday (window) shopping with Google Maps

Friday, December 19, 2014 at 12:01 AM

So much of the fun of holiday shopping is seeing the lavish, seasonal displays in the windows of shops and department stores as you pass by. Starting today, with Google Maps Business View, you can see decked out displays in New York and London—without braving the cold weather, lugging bags around or fighting for sidewalk space with fellow shoppers. Now grab your virtual reindeer because we’re off to our holiday window tour!

Stopping by Saks Fifth Avenue is a must for any holiday window shopper. Gazing at the dreamy Once Upon a Time in NYC, you can imagine being Cinderella in a magical carriage. Note: Prince Charming and glass slipper sold separately.

Cruising by Macy’s in Herald Square, a Miracle on 34th Street awaits. Peering through the glass, you can see Santa and his elves hard at work. After all, we’re only a week away from their big night!

Rounding out our NYC tour, Bloomingdale’s is getting the New Year’s Eve party started early. There’s no place to ring in 2015 like in the bright lights of the big city.

Holiday shopping in London may be blustery and cold, but the lovely, inviting window displays are sure to warm the heart. Stopping first at Selfridges, you can go on a themed journey from fairytale to fable, all finished with rhymes...even their windows have labels!

Looking into the gilded window displays at Liberty London, you might believe that all that glitters is gold after all. Look closer to see the plethora of presents tempting you inside to the promises of holiday joy behind the glass.

And finally, if you’re doing some last minute shopping, you can prepare for a trip by taking a look inside the stores in Google Maps. Business View, provides virtual tours of thousands of retail shops around the world, whether you’re headed to Old Navy in San Francisco or Benetton in Russia. Just look for the “See Inside” marker on Maps, Search and Google+, which lets you virtually explore your holiday shopping destination.

Walking in a winter wonderland has never been so easy (and warm!).

“See inside” with Google Maps Business View

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 9:01 PM

Here’s a Google Maps insider tip: Street View isn’t just for streets—it goes indoors, too! With Google Maps Business View, you can preview 360-degree virtual tours of restaurants, hotels, shops in more than 30 countries around the world. And this just in: we’ve got something special for fans of The Colbert Report.

The series concludes tomorrow, but you can still feel like you’re in the audience (or relive the good ol’ days) with a brand-new virtual tour of the studio. And the show has created an interactive experience with the Business View imagery that lets you explore and remember some of your favorite moments from the show. And for those who want to tour more entertainment and news studios, check out our Views gallery.

Business View may also be your best new travel companion. Whether you’re traveling to see your family for the holidays or planning a romantic getaway for the new year, you probably want to make sure the ambiance of the hotel is right for the occasion. With Business View, you can see inside thousands of hotels around the world on Google, including hundreds of Best Western and Hilton hotel locations (pool included!).

In addition to finding the right spot to lay your head, you can turn to Business View to find the perfect restaurant for a meal out with friends, or get a sense of whether a tourist destination is worth the trip. Check out the decor and vibe of dazzling restaurants like Riad Nejma in Paris, Alux Restaurant Bar in Playa del Carmen, and REN in Tokyo.

To access Business View on your desktop, mobile or tablet, look for the “See Inside” marker on Maps, Search and Google+, which will take you into the virtual tour of your destination. You might be surprised what you find inside.

Map this way—Google My Maps now in Drive

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Whether you’re planning an epic road trip with friends or mapping out your favorite runs for a ski vacation, it’s easy with Google My Maps, our custom map creation tool. Starting today, you can access My Maps right from Google Drive, so it’s even easier to create, access and share your custom maps.

Creating a custom map is just as easy as opening up a new Google Doc. Just select “New,” then “More,” then “Google My Maps” to tap into your inner cartographer.

Create a new custom map right from Google Drive

Over the next week, all the maps you’ve created will also be accessible in Google Drive, so you can easily organize, manage and share them. Create folders such as “Travel,” “Hiking” and “Holidays,” and search through them to find your favorite custom maps—which might be as varied as Fourth of July Trip, Half Marathon, or SantaCon.

Magic City Half Marathon & 5K

In addition to accessing your Google My Maps in Drive, you can now add more layers and points of interest to your map, import bigger spreadsheets and include more details in each info box. Whether you’re mapping out the best surf spots down under or campgrounds in California, you can add all your favorite areas with more details across even more layers.

Whatever your needs for the holiday season, the new year and beyond, Google My Maps—now accessible in Google Drive—makes planning that much easier.

Posted by Dylan Lorimer, Product Manager, Google My Maps