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Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 08/18/2011

Google Maps adds a weather layer


What Google maps looks like with the weather layer turned on over the Washington, D.C. region.
Effective today, when you look-up a location on Google Maps, you can also access weather information.

Google’s blog explains how: “To add the weather layer, hover over the widget in the upper right corner of Google Maps and select the weather layer from the list of options. When zoomed out, you’ll see a map with current weather conditions from weather.com for various locations, with icons to denote sun, clouds, rain and so on. You can also see cloud coverage, thanks to our partners at the U.S. Naval Research Lab.”

Here’s a short promotional video from Google, describing this new feature.

Google promotional video for its weather layer on Google Maps

There’s little doubt this new functionality on Google Maps is convenient.

Yet Kevin Selle, blogger at Digital Meteorologist, is underwhelmed: “Yes! This is what we needed, another automated source that says Partly Cloudy, 72.”

Selle is an advocate for value-added, expert-generated weather content.

I think Paul Douglas, who we interviewed earlier today, might share that opinion. Recall he wrote:

The challenge all of us have to deal with: how do we prevent weather from becoming a commodity?

...

Weather shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. We all have different needs, commuting patterns, recreation plans – weather impacts all of us differently, and this opens up a tremendous opportunity to tailor weather for individual needs, to add true intelligence to the forecast

I whole-heartedly agree with these perspectives but commodity weather information has its role for those who just need a quick overview of current conditions and a generalized forecast. Google has smartly increased the value of one of its assets by incorporating basic weather information.

I wonder what the Google empire might try to do next with weather...?

By  |  02:00 PM ET, 08/18/2011

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