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Google Maps heads for the great indoors

If you, like your correspondent, belong to the ranks of the hopelessly directionally-challenged, the spread of GPS technologies to smartphones has been a godsend. So that solves the problem posed getting from Point A to B while you're driving. But what about once you arrive at your destination - especially when it happens to be a major retail outlet or airport?

Microsoft and a few startups have tried their hand with indoor mapping. And now it's Google's turn with a mobile mapping service that includes directions within stores, malls, airports and transit centers in the U.S. and Japan.

When trying to locate their position on a map, users of Google Maps 6.0 for Android will now be able to view each floor with their location accurate to within 5 meters. Points of indoor interest, such as airport gates or bathrooms, will also be visible.

For now, this feature only works on smartphones and tablet computers running its Android software. It helps deepen people's attachment to their Android phones so the company has more opportunities to sell ads on the go. Also of note, - at least for now - Google holds the advantage of its chief rival as Apple's iOS doesn't offer yet indoor mapping.

Though only a fraction of indoor locations are currently mappable, Google is hoping that more owners and operators of shopping and transportation hubs will submit their indoor floor plans. Click here to read the full roster of participating locations.

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