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New software the companies plan to add to phones would make it easier to use Bluetooth wireless technology to track down people for who may have been infected by coronavirus carriers (April 10).

AP Domestic

Google’s “MyMaps,” which offers self-generated directions, has been rediscovered in a big way during the COVID-19 crisis.

A unit of Google’s popular Maps program since 2007, MyMaps allows users to create their own personalized maps, share them with friends and on the Web.

Google says it has seen a “surge” in usage to MyMaps, with nearly a billion more creations, edits and views compared to the same time last year, with nearly 3 billion – up from 2 billion.

“What’s most impressive is how communities are using MyMaps in ways we never imagined,” says Chris Herwig, a Google program manager. People are using the self-serve program “to help individuals find ways to be forces for good and coordinate relief efforts.”

Herwig cites as examples everything from COVID-19 testing sites and food banks, to places where first responders can access child care facilities. 

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With MyMaps (http://www.google.com/mymaps) users start by naming their map, searching for an address or business – say, the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood – and then adding locations to the tab. They can also add place marks, draw lines and shapes, and embed text, photos and videos.

Once the map is saved, it can be shared via a URL, embedded on websites, which you can’t easily do with Google Maps or just sent via email or social media. 

“A map can be helpful in ways that a simple list of text is not,” Herwig says. “It helps us instantly see information in the context of where we are, with the locations of the resources we might need.”

Google touted the creation of a map, created by a user in Brooklyn, of where to find pictures of rainbows in front windows. The map has gone viral, and expanded beyond Brooklyn to neighboring states Connecticut and New Jersey, and as far away as Virginia and Maryland. 

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter. 

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