It seems I accidentally tripped over something new at Google Maps this morning: I happened to be looking at the houses for sale in our area — a recreational pursuit of mine — and when I mapped an address using Google Maps, all of a sudden thumbnail photos started popping up here and there. Then a little while later I saw a Twitter message from Steve Rubel about Google Maps adding photos, and it all made sense. The site is apparently integrating both Picasa and Panoramio photos, as well as videos from YouTube and user-created maps.
Adding geo-tagged or otherwise location-oriented photos to Google Maps has been an option for some time under the “My Maps” tab — which also allows you to do things like calculate distances between two points, or see the weather for a specific location. But now Google is apparently adding the photo feature as a default. It’s not clear to me whether it’s only photos that have been geo-tagged, or whether it also includes photos that have specific keywords in them.
I think this is an interesting feature (although there’s obviously lots of potential for abuse as well, which I’m sure Google is aware of). And it also seems as though this could be either a competitive issue or a potential partnership opportunity for companies like PlanetEye.com, where my friend and fellow mesh organizer Mark Evans works. If Panoramio is already integrated into Google Maps, then presumably other companies could as well. (Note: I didn’t realize that Panoramio was owned by Google until I read MG Siegler’s post; I agree that it would be good if Google Maps could integrate photos from other services as well).