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tutorials_mapsenginelite_16_tempiconsStarting today, anybody will be able to use a subset of  Google Maps Engine, thanks to the launch ofGoogle Maps Engine Lite (beta). This new tool, Google says, will allow any mapping enthusiast to “create and share robust custom maps using this powerful, easy-to-use tool.”

Maps Engine Lite allows users to upload small spreadsheets with locations and visualize them on a map. They can also compare up to three different data sets for, the company stresses, non-businesses purposes.

Multiple layers can be created on custom maps and users who don’t have spreadsheets to upload can also manually draw lines, mark specific areas and set place markers. Google offers a total of nine base maps, including its usual satellite and terrain maps, as well as styles that emphasize city boundaries, political boundaries and highways. Maps Engine Lite also offers about 150 different icons that can be used to mark specific places.

To help new users get started, Google also published a tutorial that offers a few sample data sets and a step-by-step guide to publishing a custom map.

My Maps, the earlier custom mapping tool will still be offered, for the time being and My Maps users can import their maps into the new Maps Engine Lite. Over time, however, Google product manager Beth Liebert writes in today’s announcement, My Maps will be “incorporated into Google Maps Engine Lite.”

Google is officially labeling Maps Engine Lite as a beta, and it’ll only be available in English for the time being.

Credit: Tech Crunch