An estimated 140,000 techies have flocked to Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, the world's largest consumer tech fair. Anyone who's been to a Vegas casino knows how easy it is to lose yourself among the flashing lights and the intoxicated tourists.
What's a befuddled geek to do? Turn to Google, of course.
The web giant has announced that the indoor mapping feature of its Google Maps service now displays the floor plans for some Vegas casinos and hotels, as well as various hot spots around the city, such as the massive Las Vegas Convention Center, the McCarran International Airport and various Best Buy stores.
In November, Google debuted several indoor floor maps on its Maps app for Android. The feature allowed users to search detailed floor plans for some major shopping malls and retail outlets like Home Depot and Ikea. These maps, along with the new casino maps, are still available only on Android devices. (Sorry, iPhone owners.)
Brian McClendon, vice president of engineering for Google Earth and Maps, detailed the expanded feature in a post on the Google Lat Long Blog. McClendon explained that Android users can now open Google Maps to navigate through hotels like Caesars Palace, Bellagio, The Venetian, The Palazzo and MGM Grand, among others.
A few gadget blogs caught wind of the feature a couple days before it was unveiled by Google and wrote excitedly about the new nav tool, in particular the option to cache maps for offline use.
"[G]iven the dearth of wireless connectivity inside most of Vegas' frequented locales, it's certainly a blessing that we'll be taking advantage of," wrote Engaget.
Encouraging Android users to rely on their phones in shopping centers could prove a boon for Google's mobile payment app, Google Wallet, which lets users purchase items by tapping or waving a smartphone in front of a payment receiver, rather than paying by credit card. Back in November, the AP commented that Google's indoor mapping feature could prompt Android owners to keep their devices handy, thus making them more likely to use other Android services, such as Google Wallet.
Visit the Android Market to download the latest version of Google Maps for Android, and check out the slideshow (below) to see screenshots from the new Las Vegas casino mapping feature.
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