Google Labs has been toying around with Google Maps a lot lately, especially with its City Tours option it rolled out a few months back. New updates to the City Tours, however, make them far more social and even easier for you to plan a trip.

The City Tours, which is still in testing mode as a Google Labs feature, can now be imported from your My Map option. If you’ve marked your own Google Map according to attractions you found interesting in a city, that’s helpful to Google and other Map users. By importing your own tour, Google can make it available to others that may find your trip plan of interest. In this case, a public map can be imported from City Tours by another user, giving them your trekked route as a recommendation to try out for themselves. If you’d rather not share your entire city tour, you can import your marked maps just for your own trip-planning purposes.

Additionally, City Tours has complete walking directions, giving details beyond estimated travel time based on distance between attractions. Google now provides complete pedestrian routing information for the entire imported tour, including road types, bridges and bodies of water. This really integrates the standard Google Maps walking directions into the City Tours Labs feature, taking it one step closer to becoming a full-fledged and official app.

As far as trip-planning goes, however, the improved City Tours and its ongoing integration with regular Google Maps features makes it an intruging experiment and tool. This is even more pronounced now that Google has made City Tours more social in their ability to be made public and imported by other users. The company’s interest in maps has also been emphasized thanks to its mobile Android platform, increasing the need for map features and enhancements, with easy-to-usefunctions that can accommodate a traveler on the go.

Having just been to Hawaii to visit 7 cities on 3 islands during a cruise, I readily await the future of Google Mobile apps for trip planning. You never really know what you’ll want to do on a trip until you get there. Having a mobile tool to help plan a trip in just a few clicks receives a lot of stress from the trip-planning process.

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Kristen Nicole

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