Google is turning Maps into a social platform

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Google will shut down photo-sharing site Panoramio as it focuses on building out features in Google Maps.
Panoramio allows users to upload and share their photos by location on Google Maps and Google Earth. However, Google would like users to upload their photos using its inbuilt tool instead.

The announcement is just the latest effort by the company to position Maps as a social platform and primary discovery tool, thereby making it more appealing to advertisers and marketers. Most recently, for example, Google gave users the ability to add locations and confirm suggested edits, making Maps much more personalized and accurate. Additionally, it added search ads to Maps so that local businesses surface when users make related inquiries.

But Google is also relying on Maps as a driver in the artificial intelligence (AI) race, according to Google Maps head Jen Fitzpatrick. Having spent almost two decades investing in mapping endeavors, the company has accumulated massive amounts of mapping data, giving it the upper hand over the likes of Apple, Tesla, and Facebook. It makes sense that Google would base much of its future AI abilities on this data. Integrating more capabilities into Maps is one way to entice users to use the service more regularly, inputting even more data, and giving Maps even more user data to feed its AI.

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