Google 'Star Droid' App Will Turn Your Phone Into an Interactive Star Map, You Into a Colossal Nerd (Updated)

The London Times is reporting that Google plans to release a mobile app called "Star Droid", which uses a combination of GPS and the phone's camera to label the stars above your head.

Once they've attained a GPS lock, users will be able to point their phones' cameras toward the night sky and have star data—probably pulled from the same sources as Google Earth's Sky—superimposed over the image.

The Times report doesn't mention which mobile OSes will get this app, and Google declined to comment about its very existence, but iPhone and Android handset are obvious choices—although their cameras don't seem terribly well suited to taking pictures of a near-black sky. The app's launch, so to speak, is rumored for this week.

UPDATE: Google has released the app and accompanying press release, and contrary to the Times' report, the camera is not utilized by the app. In other words, it's just a minor update to Sky Map. Full release below:
{The Times via Pocketlint]

Google Launches Sky Map Update

Today, Google is launching an update to Sky Map, an Android app that enables users to view a labeled map of the sky that adjusts to their locations and the movements of their mobile devices. The app uses GPS and Compass data, as well as the Date/Time, to determine what celestial objects the device is facing at a given moment. If it is pointed towards Venus, for example, users will see a labeled map of the sky with Venus and the objects surrounding it on their screens. As users move their phones, the map displayed on the screen adjusts accordingly, enabling them to point their phones at the sky and discover what they are seeing (or could be seeing), wherever they may be.

In addition to improvements in performance and a redesigned user-interface, Sky Map, now an official Google app, features a search tool that helps users discover where, relative to their current positions, planets and stars are located in the sky. Searching for 'Polaris' (the North Star) or 'Aquarius' will direct users to move their devices until they are facing these objects. The app guides users towards the star, planet, or constellation they are trying to find and alerts them when they have arrived at the proper location. Not only will users be able to learn more about the objects at which they are gazing, but they can also now search and find stars and planets, the locations of which they may not know.

For more information about Sky Map, have a look at our blog posts on the Google Lat Long Blog and the Google Mobile Blog

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