Even if you like shopping during the other 360-odd days of the year, shopping for Christmas gifts is the pits. That goes double if you don’t have any good Christmas gift ideas and you’re forced to wander the malls like a lost soul.
But this year, there’s hope. This year, Google’s gift to us all is a new maps upgrade that’s designed to take some of the guess work out of shopping for Christmas gifts even when you’re fresh out of ideas.
The new Google Maps upgrade is indoor maps. Now instead of just showing you how to get to a place, Google Maps will help you navigate inside of it once you’re through the front door.
This is great for holiday shoppers who have to navigate not just malls but airports, train stations, outlet shopping strips and other ridiculously crowded venues as they search for relatives, gifts and perhaps a much-needed respite from family time.
To get the indoor floor plan view, all you have to do is zoom in on the building in question once you’re in Google Maps. Then you’ll see a detailed floor plan with labels for stores within the mall, gates in the airport, ATMs, restrooms, restaurants and more.
Right now, the Google Maps indoor floor plan upgrade includes most major airports, malls, universities, sports arenas, libraries, hospitals, hotels and “more than 10,000 floor plans are set from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.”
The feature is still pretty new, however, and not all venues will be mapped. But that’s where you come in. Just download the Google Maps Floor Plan App. Once you’re inside the building in question, take a picture of the floor plan or directory map located in lobbies in office buildings and impossible-to-find spots in malls.
Next, find the building in Google Maps and through the Google Maps Floor Plan App and line up the floor plan with the image of the building and the map will upload to Google Maps where everyone can see it. This is a great way to get user help in updating maps — and certainly much better than Apple’s ridiculous user-oriented updates.
Speaking of Apple, I’m not going to say that Google’s new maps innovation is a direct dig at Apple. After all, maps are important, and Google’s new Maps upgrade comes just in time to help out a lot of Christmas shoppers. But I will say that Apple really messed up with iOS6 maps. And now that the gate has been left open, Google’s running right through it.
Right now the indoor maps upgrade is only available for Android. Google says an iOS6 version is coming soon. But if I were an iPhone owner, I’d click right over to GSMNation.com to pick up one of their cheap unlocked Android phones just for the maps update.
The cost of the handset won’t set you back much. And since the phones are unlocked, you can sign up for just enough pay-as-you-go minutes to get you through the holiday shopping season. Your feet will thank you and so will your wallet.