Homebrew Google Maps updated with 45° imagery, indoor Street View, and OpenStreetMap | webOS Nation

Homebrew Google Maps updated with 45° imagery, indoor Street View, and OpenStreetMap 17

by Derek Kessler Wed, 05 Dec 2012 6:48 pm EST

Homebrew Google Maps updated with 45° imagery, indoor Street View, and OpenStree

One of our favorite homebrew apps has received another update, enabling yet more functionality. The app is Google Maps, an unofficial homebrew replacement for the Bing Maps app that brings far more functionality that the old Google Maps app could ever dream of. In the months since it first debuted, 72ka's Google Maps has steadily improved, but it was the latest update that really impressed us.

By utilizing the 3.10 version of the Google Maps API, 72ka's been able to implement a swatch of new features. We'll go through it one, by one, starting with 45° imagery. This "bird's eye" view has been a work-in-progress for Google, mostly in reaction to the positive reactions people have had to Bing Maps' similar feature. As useful as the directly overhead Satellite/Aerial views can be, when it comes to seeing if that house is really the red one or which building is the local electronics store and which is the local bowling alley, the angled aerial view that shows you the faces of buildings as well as the roofs really rocks. Both the TouchPad and webOS smartphone versions of Bing Maps supported viewing Bing's bird's eye maps, but the smartphone version frustratingly didn't support rotation to view things from another direction.

So Google's been rolling out 45° imagery as quickly as they can. The 0.2.7 version of Jan Herman's (that's 72ka, by the way) Google Maps has implemented support for Google's birds eye view imagery, and it works pretty well. Google still hasn't rolled out the 45° imagery for all, or even most locations, but where it is, it works. The homebrew Google Maps implementation is quite simple and straight forward - once you zoom in close enough in aerial view, the map switches to a north-facing 45° view and a rotate button is placed in the bottom toolbar. Tap it to rotate the map one turn. There's no dealing with finicky rotate gestures like with the TouchPad's Bing Maps app - two fingers are wisely reserved exclusively for zooming in and out.

Google Maps homebrew also has gained support for Google's sweet indoor Street Maps project. Google's Street View feature has continued to be pioneering and mind-blowing as far as mapping innovation is concerned - while 45° imagery gives you a good overview, Street View by-and-large lets you see what you're going to see from, well, the street. But Google's also taken the cameras off of the cars and carried them around the globe, taking them into museums and historic landmarks (check out the inside of Rome's Colosseum from the comfort of your couch, for example), as well as visiting places not frequented by cars - like the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia or the South Pole. The homebrew webOS Google Maps app doesn't yet seem to support checking out the person-perspective you can get underwater or on the bottom of the planet as you can with Google's Street View, but the indoor locations like the Colosseum and the inside of NASA's Kenned Space Center in Florida are definitely available.

The final part of this update comes in the form of the maps itself. While Google Maps is the default mapping source for the homebrew Google Maps (yeah, we know, "duh".), 72ka saw fit to implement support for the open source OpenStreetMap project. If you're not familiar with OpenStreetMap, it's a project that aims to create an entirely community-derived map of the world. The benefit is that you know the streets and paths of community better than Google ever will, and can update the map to reflect the changes made to your community's reality as they happen. The downside of this model is that the benefits come first in urban areas where there are going to be more people contributing to updating the map, versus rural areas where by virtue of the ruralness there are fewer people.

Activating OpenStreetMap maps in the homebrew Google Maps is relatively easy, but tucked away such that it's not something you can turn on by accident. Tap on the map layers icon, select More, and then OSM map. Boom, open source maps, with less Google. And the best part is, the selection of OpenStreetMap doesn't preclude you from using Google's aerial and street view services in conjunction (though Google's current traffic feature is clearly out of the question, with the map).

All told, the updates to 72ka's homebrew Google Maps are welcome and solid. It's a pity that Palm and HP didn't put this kind of love into their maps app efforts. The homebrew Google Maps app isn't perfect and can be slow and laggy in comparison to its other platform counterparts, but Jan Herman is just one man. With that in mind, we're even more impressed.


Great app, getting better. Thank you 72ka.

Love the app. Keep it up. Every time I've relented and tried to use Bing to search for, say, the closest McDonalds, I come up empty. At most, I get a fraction of Google's results. Maybe BING means Barely Included, Now Google.

I think this awesome homebrew app wins the prize for being the last webOS app in active development. :'-(

"I think this awesome homebrew app wins the prize for being the last webOS app in active development."
Hey, there's still a few of us here making apps and other cool homebrew stuff. :)

My next webOS app, if I ever manage to write it, could be the last one, mostly because I'm the slowest developer LOL

OK, I'm gonna bite. My Pre2 (Verizon) google maps has NEVER worked. I tried to get the Bing maps, and it doesn't work (cycles back to google maps). I've read posts about how to change a line in the code, but I can't even really understand which app to get for editing, and it's a little too much for me to handle tech-wise (I'm fine with Preware, dev mode, etc.).

I'd love to use maps! Can anyone tell me how to get this app above? Please???

Thanks Derek! I figured since I already had a (busted) app called "Google Maps" that I needed to do some maneuvering to get the new "Google Maps."

But sho' nuff... there it is... working like a charm.

its within Preware, install Preware and just do a search for google maps, or even just "maps" will do the trick. Only thing is you have to check Preware for updates.

This app is so amazing, I'm half expecting to zoom in on my location and see myself standing there!

If a brave new world of open webOS ever comes to pass, Mr Herman gets my vote for head of location services.

A few articles back, there were comments about stock browsers not supporting the survey page and I am one of the many surprised that the usabilty of the PalmOS PIM system didn't translate to webOS.

People often remark on the relative lack of apps, but 'thousands' is more than you will ever need if each one is high quality and fully featured. If users are to ever return to this platform, they will start with the core apps. If they are no good, everyone will move on, regardless of the UI.

Another mapping app from the same stable is the 'Here' app for Nokia maps. It's early days on that one, but Nokia are apparently pushing forward with laser mapping:

Perhaps we'll one day have an integrated mapping solution with Google, OpenStreetMap and Nokia all in the mix.

Hi, check my post here http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-development/313394-new-google-maps-webos-native-javascript-api-57.html#post3366524 where I can show another map sources, including Nokia maps. The "one day" is close.... :) But I have to check legall issues of using each other map sources in conjunction with Google maps API.

Hi all, first of all, thanks to Derek for this article and all the webOS people who supports me or who just uses the app. Developing Google maps for webOS (where the Google API doesn´t support webOS) is sometimes nightmare, like a going against the wall. That´s why the app is sometimes slower and laggy, because needs many workarounds for basic functionality. On the other side, I´m still excited of (open)webOS conecpt and decided to be active in development as long as possible.

We really must use the "donate link" of the app page. When I first saw MapsGL on my notebook I thought it was very cool. This is the coolest thing I ever saw on a webOS phone.

We're still missing that one crucial item to make this app the be-all-end-all maps app on webOS: navigation.

Tapping on a pin offers the option to send the destination to Navit, which uses on board maps for navigation without a data connection. Navit is also in Preware.

only see v0.2.5 in preware even after update?

i got it...from the homebrew download link....


still improving, awesome.