| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Google Inc. will introduce on Wednesday a new feature that lets users create personalized maps which plot the locations of everything from cheap gas locally to the latest earthquakes worldwide.
MyMaps, as the new feature is known, allows consumers to select from more than one hundred mini-applications created by independent software developers. These allow users to overlay data on top of Google's popular online map service.
Visitors to maps.google.com after Wednesday at 6 a.m. PDT (1300 GMT) will find a new tab that contains links to dozens of the mini-applications, which Google calls Maplets.
One map application allows users to watch YouTube videos based on the locations where they are uploaded. One could switch from the video confessions of a teenager in Ohio to tourist videos shot in the Andes mountains of South America.
Among the applications created by software developers over the past month are programs that allow users to link famous photos taken in locations around the world to Google Maps.
Alternately, photos that have location information on the Flickr photo sharing service can be found on a Flickr Maps application. Users can map local real estate prices, plot hotels or locate the cheapest gas station nearby.
"We are putting the Web into maps," said John Hanke, a product manager for Google Maps, said of the diversity of information users now will be able to locate geographically.
Furthermore, users can overlay multiple applications on top of Google Maps to find interesting geographical correlations.
Before buying a house, a potential property owner could overlay local crime statistics on their new neighborhood.
Tourists could check out photos posted by other tourists to sites such as Yahoo Inc.'s Flickr to figure out what the hotel or the surrounding region looks like before they book a reservation.
Consumers who have signed up for a Google Gmail account can save personalized maps. Users who choose not to sign into Google services can remain anonymous but use the service, Hanke said.