Friday, August 14, 2015

Google's universal zip codes - Plus Codes - arrive on Google Maps

A while back, Google unveiled it's universal "zip code" system that allowed us to pinpoint any location anywhere in the world. Now, Plus Codes get another push, by working on Google Maps as well.

You can now search for Plus Codes on Google Maps, which will certainly help its adoption. If you've never heard of it before, it's a sort of universal zip code that allows us to specify a specific area anywhere in the world.

Traditionally, we use postal addresses, with a door number, street name, ZIP code, and so on. But none of that is of any help in places where streets might have no names; or where there aren't even any streets around; like in the middle of a forest, or beach, or wherever. Usually, that would be the sort of thing that would force us to use coordinates... but that's not very friendly.

That's where this Open Location Code (Plus Codes) comes in, allowing you to transform any place in the world into an easily letter and number sequence. It's a sort of zip code, but one that doesn't rely on streets, and that has taken care of details such as: variable resolution (shorter codes can provide a wider area location, but with increased precision as you add extra characters); characters chosen so it would be hard to misinterpret them; etc.

So, next time you want to let someone know where you are, instead of relying on a street name that may make your friends head to the nearest town looking for a street with the same name; or trying to explain where on a beach/mountain you are, you might simply send them a plus code like this one 8C9H2XM6+3CP! :)

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