Tag Archives | google

Google Street View Comes To Argentina

google street view argentina 300x168 Google Street View Comes To Argentina

Street View coming to Buenos Aires

Argentina’s always a little late to the party…

Google Maps didn’t launch here until November 2008, well behind its 2005 release and almost every other country. And, while we finally got maps, we did not get the popular street view feature.

Five years later, Google Street View is finally making its way to Argentina. The stated reason for the delay was the problem of obtaining the necessary permits to allow the street view cars to operate in the country. What? A bureaucratic delay in Argentina? How is that possible? icon smile Google Street View Comes To Argentina

Anyhow, on October 2, Google is hosting a press event to show off the new street view cars and start the process of photographing the streets of Buenos Aires. (No word yet on what other cities may be available.)

Now, don’t expect street views to show up that quickly though. Google still has to process all the images and blur out faces and license plates. Still, it’s coming, so that’s big news!

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Expat Tech: Google Voice Coming Soon

google voice Expat Tech: Google Voice Coming SoonMore interesting news from Google – they have just announced Google Voice, a new service that will give you a new US phone number from Google with a slew of services to go along with it.  The basic premise of Google Voice is that you will have one number for all your phones, for life.  When this number is called, it can ring all of the phones that you have (home, work, cell) and also handle voice mail.  As these numbers change, your Google Voice number will remain the same.

Now, most expats are already using voice-over-ip (VOIP) services like Vonage or Skype, so why would you need this service?  While it’s true that this is not a VOIP service (yet) and you will still need an existing phone to place and receive calls, Google is offering a tremendous number of services that most other VOIP don’t provide – and they’re doing it for free.  Some of these services include:

  • Call US numbers for free and cheap international calling (might be cheaper than using another VOIP service)
  • Voicemail transcripts – receive your voicemail as email or text messages automatically converted from voice to text (Vonage charges $.25 per message for this)
  • Call screening – announce and screen callers
  • Listen in – listen before taking a call
  • Block calls
  • Taking calls – answer on any of your phones (No word on whether it will support international numbers or what the cost would be.)
  • Phone routing – phones ring based on who calls
  • Forwarding phones – add phones and decide which ring
  • Listen to voicemail – check online or from your phone
  • Notifications – receive voicemails via email or SMS
  • Personalize greetings – vary greetings by caller
  • Conference calling
  • Call record – record calls and store them online
  • Call switch – switch phones during a call
  • SMS – send, receive, and store SMS
  • And more… (Visit the Google Voice features page for the rest and to view short videos on these services)

The free SMS services are especially interesting since many expats are unable to send and receive US-based text messages, so this would be an easy way to enable that.  And, SMS text messages are becoming more and more critical as many US-based services use them as an additional measure of security for authenticating accounts (PayPal, Craigslist, etc.) or for approving bank transactions (I had this at Bank of America but had to turn it off when I moved to Argentina).

The downsides to Google Voice?

  • You will need to pick a new number from Google as there is not currently any way to transfer your existing number to them. This means changing your old number everywhere.
  • You still need a US based number for the call forwarding to work. At this time, the service is US only.  Though you could sign up just to get a free number with voicemail, SMS, etc. and not have the forwarding or calling features.
  • The Google Voice service is not yet available but will be rolling out over the next few weeks.  You can sign up to be notified when it launches.
  • There is no fax support, so it may not replace all of your numbers yet.

All things considered, it looks like an amazing service and I’ve already signed up for the wait list.  You can read more abotu Google Voice at:

–  Google Voice: A push to rewire your phone service [C|Net]
GrandCentral To (Finally) Launch As Google Voice. It’s Very, Very Good. [TechCrunch]

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Expat Tech: Google Maps Argentina – Phase I

google maps new 300x246 Expat Tech: Google Maps Argentina   Phase IAs we previously reported, Google Maps for Argentina launched yesterday.  After some initial testing, we found that the site works pretty for mapping address, but it is still missing some useful features and still has some quirks to be worked out:

  • Driving directions from point A to point B are unavailable (Google says it needs a couple of months)
  • No street level views (no word on when these are coming)
  • Satellite view does not let you zoom in as closely as in other major cities
  • The business search only returns limited results. For example, searching for “pizza nyc” returns almost 64,000 results on the NYC map. Search for “pizza buenos aires” returns 173 matches.  While it may not match NYC, there’s a lot more than 173 pizza places here.
  • In Buenos Aires, we type the street number after the street name, for example: Soler 5608 rather than 5608 Soler.  Well, Google seems to like reversing this and putting the number first.
  • There’s no traffic updates (don’t expect this soon)
  • The subway stops are not marked

Overall, it’s a good first effort, but it’s going to be sometime before I drop my use of the Mapa de Buenos Aires site with it’s driving as well as walking directions.

One nice thing for us bloggers is that it’s now very easy to include a map of places that we’re talking about in our WordPress blogs using the Geopress Plugin. Once the plugin is installed, it’s easy to include a Google map for any of the places that we refer to – like this one for the location of my favorite restaurant, Osaka. (only viewable on the full post page, not the index)

Tech Note: If you’re installing this plugin, you may need to edit the mapstraction.js file included with the GeoPress plugin to avoid errors in your WordPress admin.  To do this, make the following changes:

Line 27, change:
function $() { 
to
function $m() {

Line 111, change:
   this.mapElement = $(element);
to
   this.mapElement = $m(element);

Line 1329, change:
         var el = $(this.pinID + “_” + this.map.GUID).onmouseover;
to
         var el = $m(this.pinID + “_” + this.map.GUID).onmouseover;

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Expat Tech: Google Maps Coming to Argentina

google maps 300x211 Expat Tech: Google Maps Coming to Argentina

As of Monday, November 17, 2008, that big blank space on the photo at the right should be a bit more filled in like our neighbors in Brazil.  That’s right, after a long wait, Google Maps is finally coming to Argentina.

When I was back in NYC, I pretty much used  Google Maps on a weekly basis. So, I was fairly disappointed when I came here and discovered that Google Maps did not cover Argentina.  They had a satellite view, but absolutely no street level maps. This seemed a bit surprising given that Buenos Aires is one of the 10 largest cities in the world.

After doing some initial research, it appeared that Google did not yet have what it considers to be high quality data for geocoding positions in Argentina. In an exclusive February 2008 interview with infobaeprofesional.com (es | en), Google’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Latin America, Alberto Arébalos, stated this very reason and also mentioned that gathering that data was a very time consuming manual process. He said that he expected to have maps for Argentina in the first half of 2008.  Well, it took a bit longer than that…  (An interesting point he also mentioned in the article was that Google was tackling issues of low Internet penetration and fighting for increased ad spending as against more traditional forms of media in South America.)

Luckily, several others were filling the map void, including a goverment run site built on open-source software – the Buenos Aires Interactive Map. This interactive map of the city is a public service from the city government that allows you to geographically locate adresses, find relevant information about each building including its photograph, find the shortest path to go from one place to another on foot or obtain driving directions, access a considerable set of useful information regarding the city including satellite photographs, historical flights and much more.  While it’s only in Spanish, it’s pretty easy to figure out. The major problem with it is that it seems to be down frequently and is sometimes slow to respond.

With Google Maps now coming, I think it’s going to be time to say good-bye to that site though. Google just always seems to do things so much better than anyone else. The initial launch will include road maps of major cities, tourist destinations, and national parks. Point to point directions will not initially be available though and may take several additional months to launch (one reason to still use the government site). Business listings will also come at a later point.

Google Maps also includes their powerful API which allows other web sites to create mashups showing different data displayed on their maps.  It will be interesting to see what new mashup sites launch for the area as well. It will also be interesting to see if other sites, like Guia Oleo drop their existing maps and go with Google.

We’ll report back on Monday and see if it’s all that it’s promised to be.

Desde el lunes, Google se suma a la competencia argentina de los mapas online  (english) [Clarin]

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