Google Factory Tour: Google Earth, Map API?

Yesterday’s Google Factory Tour (via Kottke) yielded some interesting tidbits about Google’s operations and future plans, including “Google Earth,” a successor to Keyhole (previous entry) that will debut for real in a couple of weeks. Google Earth is mentioned here and here; it apparently integrates with Google’s search and local features.

More immediately, though, we’ve got a (somewhat) clearer answer from Google about what it thinks about all the Google Maps hackery (previous posts ad infinitum). As I (and others) suspected (or hoped), they’re cool with them, at least as much as they can be within the limits of their own licence with the data providers, as O’Reilly’s Marc Hedlund reports:

[T]hey had every intention to not shut them down as long as their licenses permit it, and one of the engineers insinuated that they might be working on a Google Maps API or a similar way to build on top of Maps (he actually said, “to make them not hacks,” by which I think he meant not unauthorized). They also said they hoped that the data licensors would realize that increased traffic benefits them.

Via All Points Blog.