December 02, 2011, 1:42 PM — Google Maps 6.0 for Android has an interesting twist – especially for those concerned Americans don't go outside often enough or, like me, are often criticized for having a hard time navigating within large buildings.
Google Maps now includes maps you can follow inside as well as out.
They're not turn-by-turn, GPS-enabled show-me-how-to-get-there displays like the ones that will be responsible for the complete inability of the next generation to find their own way to school or the mall in their flying cars.
Well, not quite.
They're essentially static images of the floor plans of buildings lots of people get lost in – airports, big malls like the gargantuan Mall of America in Minneapolis, hospitals.
The indoor maps pop up even when you're outside, if you zoom in on a particular building.
The My Location function will tell you what floor you're on in some buildings – if the GPS signal is clear enough inside the building or if the building management has installed repeaters as well as having uploaded their floor plans through an open-submission page Google put up for the purpose.
There aren't a ton of maps available yet, and those that are available aren't much more useful than they would be posted on a You Are Here sign in the building itself (which is pretty darn useful sometimes, though many are missing any actual You Are Here indicator, probably just to give a few laughs to security staffers watching on closed-circuit monitors).
Some stores have signed up as special sponsors, just go get a bit of an edge over their mall-adjacent competitors, or to show pity on starving wanderers in the big-box wilderness.
Macy's, Bloomingdales, Ikea, Home Depot all have layouts of many stores available, as do plenty of second-tier airports, a few first-tier airports, and a whole list of real-estate development or management companies whose names you don't know but whose properties you might.