Jeff Katz, the founding CEO or Orbitz, has recently released Travel Game, an excellent series of games that use the Google Earth Plug-in to power them.
The first game in here is called Touristo, which allows you to navigate through exciting areas using helicopters to find specific goals. The mapping, graphics and controls are all top-notch.
The second game is called Skydiver. In this one, you ride up in a helicopter, jump, and then use the arrow keys to try to land on a target on the ground.
The games utilize quite a bit of social networking, allowing you to connect to Facebook friends, send them gifts, etc, and even use their photos inside of the games. The best part is that the games will have real, free travel rewards, which should help encourage more users to play.
Beyond all else, the games are simply fun to play and make excellent use of the Google Earth Plug-in. Head over to jktravelgame.com
Google continues to make upgrades to Places and Maps having recently announced a wider rollout of Google Business Photos. As noted last week there have been a number of changes/additions to Places pages themselves.
Adam Dorfman of SimPartners pointed out this additional visual upgrade to the Hotel booking feature. The new emphasis makes the feature more obvious by adding its own subheading, emphasizing the dates and bolding the price on a contrasting color.
Another change that occurred last week was that the photos, which had been much lower on the page, also are now appearing above the fold.
Google has often indicated that they will continue to change and move the content of the Places Page based on their perception of end user utility. If that is the decision criteria of how they reached the current layout the implications are not quite believable.
By that logic the review totals being duplicated above the fold implies that Google’s own reviews and fully formed review content are somehow less valuable than 3 party review totals. Google would also have to argue that users really want to do little more in Places than book a hotel.
It would seem that politics, business relations and income considerations more likely explanations for the new layout.
In an effort to continue to help keep people informed about the extent of the tragedy that has recently struck Japan, Google Earth has added panorama photos of post-earthquake zones. These photos come from our partner 360cities and can be found in the “Photos” layer in Google Earth, along with other 360cities and Panoramio photos. These dramatic panorama photos are part of the work of photographer, Akila Ninomiya.
In March 2011, Mr. Ninomiya took his camera and bravely ventured into the heart of post-earthquake zones in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. He documented earthquake and tsunami damages in cities including Rikuzen-Takada, Kamaishi, Osawa, Miyako, Settai, and Omoto.
Mr Ninomiya didn’t just take pictures. He took 360 degree panoramas, which give unique perspectives to the extent and severity of this unprecedented natural disaster.
To see his collection in Google Earth, make sure you have the “Photos” layer turned on. Then fly to any of the cities mentioned above, eg. Ofunato, Japan. You will see a number of orange colored photo placemarks. Click on one of them and you will see a picture like the one below:
To see the 360 degree view, click on the center picture in the balloon and it will take you into the panoramas. If you wish to view the post earthquake panoramas only, download this KML collection and open it in Google Earth.
These panoramas were taken as part of a non-profit Japan Pano Journalism Project, which aimed to document the 2011 Japan Earthquake damage and recovery with 360º panoramic photography.