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Google Maps

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  • Vendor: Google Inc.
  • Version: Varies with device
  • Price: Free

Those of us of a certain age remember a time before Google Maps. A time before the maps that came before Google Maps. A time when we unfolded large pieces of paper in a car while driving at high speed — or, worse, as a tourist in a faraway land — gazed at the mysterious symbols and hoped we knew which way we were pointed in the first place.

Those were the dark ages.

In February 2005 Google launched Google Maps. And today it's an integral part of our daily lives, to say nothing of the Google experience. At its simplest, it's a way to figure out where you are, or where you're going. But it's grown into so much more than that. Google Maps now ties into your search results. Looking for, say, Chinese food? You'll see recommendations. Or, even better, is that you might see your friends' recommendations, thanks to integration with Google+.

And what Google did from the top down with satellites it's also done from the driver's seat. Google has a fleet of cars worldwide that maps the roads and highways, ensuring accuracy and — and this is the really cool part — taking 360-degree "Street view" pictures, so you can actually see where you're going and what it will look like before you get there.

Google Maps made the transition from web browser to mobile, of course, and it's now an indispensable part of our online lives.

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