September 12

New Live Local Features launch

We passed a big mile marker tonight on our journey to provide the best mapping and local search service on the net. As I write this, our 4th major release of Live Local is making its way through the tubes and is rolling out to our data center. Lots of cool and useful stuff, some never before seen in a major mapping website. Assuming some wise guy doesn't try to dump something on the internet like its a truck, by the time you read this you'll be able to enjoy people searching, map drawing and tons of new Birds Eye imagery on Live Local.

Lets start with people search. At the top of the page are the search controls. Select 'People' as the type of search, then Enter a name and a place to begin the search. Like this:

Hit the search button and the map should update and a results panel appears with matching names. Results for People searches work just like a business search - Drag the map or zoom in and the queries will all refresh. You can have up to three queries active at a time, and you can mix and match between people and businesses. You can also search by phone number - just enter a 10 digit number in the first field and hit search to find the corresponding listing.

Draw on your maps. In the last release of Live Local we introduced the Collection feature, allowing you to draw a series of pushpins on the map, save them, and easily share them with others via a simple perma-link. With this release, we've extended Collections with the ability to add lines and closed shapes to your map. Along with the familiar pushpin tool on the Scratchpad, you'll now find a bunch of drawing tools like this:

You have control over line thickness, fill color, line color and line pattern. You can draw multi-segment lines or complex closed shapes. While its not exactly Adobe Illustrator, it is quite an impressive set of basic drawing and editing tools all implemented in Dynamic HTML; No plugins required, and it works very well in Firefox 1.5 (Windows, Mac, Linux), IE6, and IE7. Here's a Collection I am working on of the major neighborhood boundaries in Manhattan.

In the image above, I have clicked on one of my polygons, placing it in edit mode. In this mode you can drag the vertices around to reshape your line or polygon. You can also split a segment and add a node by right clicking on it like this:

There's a lot more to this feature area - I'll try to post a full tutorial here in the next day or so. until then, dive in and have some fun with this. Its a great way to maintain Collections of your hiking, biking or running trails, creating sales territory maps, or illustrating something for a friend on a map that would have otherwise been difficult to convey. I'm looking forward to seeing some Collections appearing at PassThePOI that make good use of these new features.

Send to Phone and Call for Free. The Previous release of Live Local introduced a feature that allowed you to dial any business in the US free of charge. We've now added the ability to Send a Text message to your phone with a business listing's details. Here I have searched for Bicycle repair in Phoenix AZ

When I hover over any of the search results I get options to Call the business for Free or to SMS their details to my mobile. Call for Free is slick in that it works with any phone by dialing you and the business simultaneously. Selecting Send to Mobile brigs up a dialog for you to enter the mobile phone you want to send the listing to, like this:

Check off the 'Remember Me' option to have the phone number stored in a cookie for rapid re-use.

New Birds Eye Imagery. We've added dozens of new cities with birds eye coverage in this release. San Diego, Portland, Milwaukee, ... here is a growing Collection of them with the newest additions at the end. Lots of smaller cities have been added and many cities where we had coverage in the past have been greatly expanded. Check out Washington DC for instance, where coverage extends deep into the burbs. Also, in many cases it is really the entire county that is covered and not just the cities listed, so just use the pushpins as a start point for exploration.

Other enhancements include adding hundreds of thousands of new WiFI access points to our database used for triangulation. So if you are using the 'Locate me' feature on a Laptop or Origami, your determined location will be more accurate than ever. We didn't forget about our Developer community either. This release adds support for drawing Polygons to the API, and fixes a number of bugs reported over the last cycle. The industries most extensive geographic support for geocoding and routing has grown as well.  

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