Mobile Biking Now Covers Half a Gigameter Adds 12 New Countries in Maps for Android; New Ad Format & Customization for Google Maps Ad Unit; BigQuery Gets 'Batch Queries and Excel Connector'

"Mobile biking directions" and "navigation" now comes to 10 more countries in Google Maps for Android -- where "desktop biking directions" already launched last month including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. In addition to mobile biking directions, Google also adds "turn-by-turn," voice-guided biking navigation to Google Maps […]

"Mobile biking directions" and "navigation" now comes to 10 more countries in Google Maps for Android -- where "desktop biking directions" already launched last month including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

In addition to mobile biking directions, Google also adds "turn-by-turn," voice-guided biking navigation to Google Maps Navigation beta in "every country where biking directions is available."

Just mount your device on handlebars to see the turn-by-turn directions and navigation, or use speaker-mode to hear voice-guided directions.

We know there are lots of ways to get from here to there, which is why in 2010 we added biking directions to Google Maps in the U.S. and Canada, and continue to work to bring more biking features to more places.

Google Maps for Android adds Biking directions in 12 new countries

Google also revealed that since 2010 when the company first introduced biking direction in the U.S. and Canda, today, it covers over 330,000 miles (over 530,000 kilometers, or half a gigameter) of green biking lines in Google Maps.

"Dark green lines on the map show dedicated bike trails and paths with no motor vehicles, light green lines show streets with bike lanes and dashed green lines show other streets recommended for cycling. Biking navigation even helps you avoid steep hills," Google explained.

And, where Map Maker and biking directions are both available, riders can add bike trails, lanes and suggested routes to Google Maps.

Google Maps Ad Unit Adds new Ad Format and Customization

In other maps news, Google Maps API let developers add AdSense to their maps, today Google adds two new extensions now offering more choices for ads with maps and an improved experience for your users.

First extension adds "six new ad formats" that request a link unit rather than direct ads.

"Link units display a list of topics that are relevant to the content of your page. When a user clicks a topic, Google will show a page of related ads. Since link units can take up less screen space than direct ads they're a great option to consider when you have limited space," explains Google.

Second new extension allow customizing the design of the Maps Ad Unit. Google says, it now support custom colors for the ad unit's background, border, link, text and URL. This enables you to set a color scheme that complements the design of your site.

Those who want to try this on their site, see the developer documentation and Maps API reference for instructions on how to use these features with your ad unit.

Also, check out this demo.

Also, Google BigQuery gets two new features:

Batch Queries introduced today let you run non-interactive queries -- just "designate a query as a batch query and it will complete within a few hours," Google stated.

If you're using BigQuery via standard self-service model, you pay 2 cents per GB processed for batch queries and 3.5 cents per GB processed for interactive queries.

BigQuery Connector for Excel making it simpler to execute BigQuery queries using Microsoft Excel. "This connector takes advantage of Excel's standard web query feature to eliminate the extra work of manually importing data and running queries directly within Excel," Google explains. "Users can do the same with the 'External Data' functionality built into the product. Once the BigQuery results are in Excel, you can easily make pivot tables, create charts and integrate it with data from other sources," Google adds.

For instructions on how to download and use the connector, see the BigQuery Connector for Excel page.

You can try it here, and also check out this developers guide.

Finally, Google Places API Developer Challenge, a 10-week application development event now accepting submissions.

The event is designed to spur the creation of applications focused on civic needs.

Application submissions "begin now and will continue through the end of October."

The winning applications will be announced in mid-December. The developers of the winning applications will receive a VIP experience at Google I/O 2013.