Google Maps Australia, Ask Maps Footsteps

Google announced last month that Google Australia has officially come out of beta and that they’ve officially launched their operations in Australia. At the same time Google has launched street maps for Australia and New Zealand.

And as long as we’re talking about mapping, I also wanted to mention something that I’ve known about for a while but haven’t gotten around to writing up — offers walking directions on its map site.

Ask’s mapping service works very much like other map services. You provide a starting point (it can be as general as a city name or as specific as an address) and an end point. You can also add additional points if you’re taking a more complicated trip.

By default the Ask service will provide you with driving directions. But if you’ll look at the top of the driving directions you’ll also see a tab for walking. Click on that and you’ll get walking directions — no matter how long the trip is. Yes, even if you want to go from Dover, Delaware to Boston, and you don’t mind walking for 152 hours, Ask has you covered.

Of course walking directions also have more practical use. When I was in New York recently, I wanted to visit a local bookstore. The driving directions I got from mapping services were very “around your elbow” for a walker, as NY has many one-way streets. The walking directions, however, were a lot easier to use. Sometimes the walking directions may overcomplicate things a little, though — try mapping out walking directions in your neighborhood. A couple of times when I tested it, Ask’s directions added a few 1/10 of a mile twists and turns down streets that weren’t really necessary.

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