Google confirmed on late Tuesday that the new Google Maps embedded mapping feature described below will, in fact, become available next week. The new feature, will allow you to drop a fully-functioning Google map onto Web pages just as easily as dropping in a YouTube video.

Google spokeswoman Megan Quinn explains it like this in an email note: "Next week we will be releasing a new feature on Google Maps that enables users to add a map to their website or blog just by copying & pasting a snippet of HTML. This new functionality will enable Google Maps users to share maps in the same way that YouTube users share videos."

Earlier, Google execs in Australia said the new feature was coming soon.

To embed a Google Map, you pull up the map you want to embed--it can be a location, a business, series of driving directions, or a My Map you've created--and then click "Link to this page" and copy and paste the HTML into your website or blog. The embedded map will be fully interactive--you can drag and click or zoom in on a location, and view it in map, satellite, and hybrid modes, Google says.

Previously you had to either cut-and-paste a map into your site, which makes it a frozen, non-functioning image, or you could use the Google Maps application programming interface (API), but that's pretty hard to do unless you happen to be a computer programmer.

Now that embedding Google maps will be much easier, they're likely to start showing up everywhere on the Web. For example, a small business could plant a map on its Web page, and prospective customers could use it to generate driving directions to the business.