By Ben Sillitoe - 09:54AM - Thu 1st December 2011
A new tool was released by Google Maps this week, allowing consumers in the US to navigate their way around airports, retail stores and shopping malls.
For the first time, the technology allows Android phone users to figure out where they are and where they might want to go while indoors.
Companies in the US among the first to partner with Google for this latest development to the mobile revolution include furniture specialist Ikea and leading American retailers Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and The Home Depot.
Shoppers using the tool can search store layouts on their mobiles, and it is expected that more retailers will sign up to use the technology following the initial roll-out.
Yet to be launched in the UK, it is surely only a matter of time before the service is unveiled on this side of the Atlantic, although consumers in Japan have been able to use the system in a select number of stores and other public venues from this week.
Posting on the Official Google Blog, Vice President of Engineering, Google Earth & Maps Brian McClendon said: “When you’re inside an airport, shopping mall or retail store, a common way to figure out where you are is to look for a freestanding map directory or ask an employee for help.
“Starting today, with the release of Google Maps 6.0 for Android, that directory is brought to the palm of your hands, helping you determine where you are, what floor you’re on, and where to go indoors.”
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco International and Narita International are among the airports where the new Google Maps upgrade can also be used.
Meanwhile, there has been a huge shift in focus in the UK during recent months to ensure the growing use of mobile in the retail sector can help drive traffic to stores.
A number of leading businesses operating in the sector in Britain, including Tesco and Phones 4U, are trialling Wi-Fi in stores as a way of offering customers an opportunity to use their mobiles to aid purchasing decisions.
Mobile marketing initiatives, be it location-based advertising or the distribution of relevant m-vouchers, are also expected to become increasingly popular in the 12 months ahead.