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So long… and thanks for all the awesome! Fully formatted shownotes can always be found at http://javaposse.com. The Last Ever episode of the Java Posse, recorded in front of a live audience at Devoxx, several months ago. Video version on www.parleys.com (recommended as there’s lots of visual …

Ten years ago, two brothers, a four-people small firm and one idea had changed the world forever.

Ten years is an awfully long time in tech but pioneer Google Maps has prevailed in the digital maps space, with over 1 billion monthly active users today.

Even Apple chief executive Tim Cook eventually had to concede his company's maps product was a poor rival.

For its 10th birthday, we take a look at the many ways Google Maps has changed our lives.

1. It made sure we never get lost again

Long gone are the days when intrepid travellers got lost in the back streets of Bangkok, fumbling through their phrasebooks as they pumped locals for directions.

Unquestionably, the digital map has revolutionised the ease with which we can travel – whether it be by car, boat, plane, train or foot.

"We increasingly depend on technology for navigation, which takes some of the important serendipity out of the travel equation," says tourism expert Ulrike Gretzel from the University of Queensland.

That dependence can also mean we're left in the lurch if we're ever required to navigate without the assistance of technology.

But it also frees us to be more flexible and spontaneous in our travel plans.

There are some areas of travel Google has yet to completely conquer, however. Professor Gretzel's research shows tourists not only still ask for printed maps at visitor centres but ask questions like, "Google Maps told me to go this way, is this really the best way?" – suggesting that many people still trust a real person over an algorithm.

2. It nuked guide books and street directories

Once the backpacker's best friend, iconic Australian brand Lonely Planet has suffered blow after blow to its bottom line.

Thanks to up-to-date digital travel tools like Google Maps and TripAdvisor, there's no need to lug around a 2-inch thick brick any more.

And as for those getting around on four wheels, the humble street directory is also an endangered species. Sydney's Gregory's directory was swallowed whole by UBD in 2011.

While GPS devices are still popular, Google Maps' Navigation tool gives anyone with a decent smartphone turn-by-turn instructions, free.

3. It enabled us to "beat the traffic" – even in peak hour

Punch "traffic" into your Google Maps search bar and you'll see real-time traffic conditions for your area.

Or you could wait for the traffic update on the radio.

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Don't take the West Gate! Screenshot: Google Maps.

4. It put Australia on the map

Google Maps actually began in Australia as a fledgling start-up, run out of local engineer Noel Gordon's spare room in Hunters Hill, Sydney.

Gordon and three others, including Danish brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen – Lars now works at Facebook – founded Where 2 Technologies in 2003. Google snapped it up the next year, with the founders staying on at Google. Noel is still there today.

In 2010 The Pearcey Foundation awarded the Rasmussens NSW's Entrepreneurs of the Year award, hailing them as having "positioned Australia as a global leader in online services".

Today Google's Sydney office boasts some 900 local staff. They get free bacon and eggs for breakfast, clock up goodie points and trade them for massages, and get around the building – shared with Fairfax Media – on scooters. (Fairfax staff do not get to use the scooters, sadly.)

Check out these whiteboard scribbles from the early days, when the Where 2 team was working on a deal with Google founder Larry Page.

5. It revolutionised real estate

No more nasty surprises after travelling halfway across town to inspect the worst dump you've ever seen in your life.

With Google Maps' Street View feature you can have a gander at the neighbourhood as if you were right there.

Maps is also super handy for checking how long it takes to walk to amenities such as local shops or public transport, with Google estimating walking and cycling times instantly and with relative accuracy.

Many estate agents and property search companies also use Google Maps to power their apps and websites, giving home-hunters a better user experience.

6. It took armchair travel to a whole new level

But why stop at the next suburb? With Street View you can roam the rues of Paris and the barrios of Barcelona. There are vast swaths of the world that aren't even covered by Maps, let alone Street View (namely China, Russia, Iceland and the vast majority of Africa, Antarctica and the Middle East), but there's plenty of content to keep even the most seasoned traveller entertained.

Google has also specially curated a number of "treks" for curious web-surfers, including the pyramids of Giza, the temples of Angkor Wat and even underwater experiences such as swimming through the Great Barrier Reef.

Crowd sourcing adds another layer of interactivity to the experience, with users invited to upload photographs and reviews of locations they've visited.

In 2012 the Indonesian government recognised the benefits of Google Maps to tourism, and partnered with the tech giant to bring Maps to its big cities.

7. It's helping preserve environments and culture

By its very nature armchair tourism may encourage preservation of special destinations by satisfying travellers' hunger without them having to trample the site in person.

"Putting a place on the map" also takes on new meaning when it comes to educating the public about our geographical heritage.

In 2011, indigenous communities living in Brazil's expansive Amazon rainforest turned Street View into "river view" in a bid to show people where, and how, they lived – and why their habitat needed protection.

Last year it began mapping Australia's national parks.

8. A million other apps might not exist without it

Urbanspoon, Uber, Airbnb, Expedia, WhatsApp – so many apps we know and love are based on the Google Maps application user interface (API).

Google says there are about 1 million third-party websites and apps actively using its technology.

9. It made detective work so much easier

Street View in particular – is a treasure trove of evidence for those who know what they're looking for.

In 2013, Lithuanian authorities combed images for evidence of unauthorised property developments, as leads for potential instances of tax violation.

Police have used the tool as an aid in more grisly investigations, such as homing in on child porn rings.

Then there's the delightful story of Saroo Brierley. He got lost on the streets of Calcutta at the age of five and was adopted by an Australian couple. Years later, as an adult, he tracked down his Indian birth mother with the help of Google Maps, and his memory. Brierley wrote a book about it – and now it's being made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel.

10. But it also, regrettably, made stalking easier

Combine Google Maps' speed and ease of use with the myriad other location-based apps (see 8) that people frequently use to broadcast their whereabouts – Tinder, Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook – and it's a cyberstalker's field day.

Maps may be watching you more covertly depending on your user settings. Much of its functionality requires the location settings on a user's mobile device to be activated. Google collects that location data and stores it against a user's account.

Google's Coordinate app, made for businesses to keep track of workers while on the road was shut down in January with users directed to Maps for Work.

10 years of Google Maps: 10 ways it changed the world
Ten years on, Google Maps has undoubtedly reshaped the way we navigate and experience the world.