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Google adds weather layer to maps

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(Read caption) Google Maps added a weather layer today. Shown here: Not the weather layer from Google Maps.

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Google on Friday added a weather widget to its Google Maps feature, allowing users to monitor meteorological conditions around the globe. The functionality, which includes a "cloud layer," as well as a bunch of colorful icons, is powered with information from two Google partners: the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the Weather Channel's

We tried out the feature a bit this afternoon, and found it to be pretty cool, all things considered. There's no real magic here, just some graphics, and some swirling clouds, and some predictions for the week ahead. But it was nice to have the bird's eye view (astronaut's eye view?) – handy for travelers, and people like us, who can never quite figure out when to pack the umbrella.

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Still, not everyone is satisfied with the new Google functionality. "Google’s weather layer is surprisingly less exciting than Bing’s weather maps, which have taken a much more serious approach to displaying data," Regina Sinsky complains over at Venture Beat. "For example, Bing maps visually show temperatures changes, as opposed to Google’s static visualization." (Bing, by comparison, is powered by AccuWeather.)

Used the new Google Maps layer? Drop us a line in the comments section.

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