Google to Enhance Navigation Service via Ruba Acquisition

The giant has silently purchased an online travel guide

Google is probably planning to enhance its navigation service, Google Maps, since it has recently purchased the online travel guide Ruba, which is a dedicated community to provide visitors with journey reviews and visual guides created by other travelers. No details have been revealed about this acquisition, other than a blog post notifying users that, starting with Monday, the 24th of May, the deal is official.

"Hi friends, fans, and Ruba community members – exciting news from the Ruba team. We are thrilled to announce our team will be joining Google! As of Monday, May 24, we’ll be moving into the Google headquarters. We are totally excited to be joining such an amazing company. For the past 15 months, we’ve worked to create a unique and fun visual travel site and community focused on guides, photos, maps, and interactive tour listings to improve the online travel research experience. The Ruba community has written amazing travel reviews which have inspired our own journeys and hopefully yours as well," the Ruba Team notes on the company's blog.

One of the persons behind Ruba is Mike Cassidy, who is already known for founding various successful projects, such as Xfire, which was bought by Viacom for $102 million. His latest project, Ruba, deals with helping users plan their journeys by showing them photo-rich guides and offering tips for easily locating certain areas. This visual manner of browsing through amazing places all over the world has attracted a lot of people, who have subsequently started to submit their own reviews.

Besides simply displaying useful insights and impressions, Ruba is using Google and Flick APIs to identify places and to include relevant sample photographs. Furthermore, the company website also features Twitter and Facebook Connect integration, thus allowing its users to share their location and provide or ask for directions.

The Mountain View-based company has announced that Ruba will become a part of iGoogle, its personalized homepage service. Google started enhancing the functions provided by its Google Maps in March, when it integrated hotel locations and fares into its product, and listing train departures for numerous train stations from around the world is among its latest additions.

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