Google Announces New 3D Features for Google Earth, Is "Committed to Offering" Google Maps on 'All Platforms'

In a last minute press conference, Google today shared "the next dimension" of Google Maps. The presentation, which some felt was underwhelming from a product perspective, included a lot of history around the Google Earth, Maps and Street View products, as well as a peek at what's to come.

The announcements are particularly significant with credible rumors that Apple will be dropping Google Maps as the native maps application in iOS, in favor of its own solution at WWDC next week.

NewImage

Image courtesy The Verge

The first big announcement was related to the display of 3D buildings in Google Earth. Google is using airplanes along with a Google-designed system to photograph cities and make a 3D map of buildings. It appears to be a very similar process to the one used by C3 Technologies, a company that Apple purchased last year. The Verge offers more details on how it works:

To make the images, Google uses planes to take images at 45-degrees from four different angles — flying them in a tightly-controlled pattern with plenty of overlap. Google builds the 3D model off of these many images, using algorithms to create the shape and color of buildings. The process is "fully automated," building the 3D images without any human interactions. The system is intelligent enough to know when a certain image is blocked or shadowed, for example. The company hopes to combine the 2D mapping and vector data with the 3D images to perhaps someday provide vertical location information.


Aside from the Google Earth developments -- which will be coming to the iOS version of Google Earth in the coming weeks -- Google also unveiled new technologies for Street View and offline viewing for Google Maps on Android.

Google executives also took questions from the audience. Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering for Google Maps, said Google was "really proud of Google Maps" and that the company was "committed to offering those services on all platforms". Based on these statements, it seems likely Google will offer a standalone iOS app for Google Maps even if Apple chooses to implement its own mapping solution in the native iOS Maps app, much like it does for the existing Google Earth app.

Top Rated Comments

Kauai Avatar
135 months ago
You know, it isn't a crime to admit that a company other than Apple does something well.

And Google does very well with Maps. I just can't see Apple committing to the same amount of real world work they do in order to make sure Google Maps is the best.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jebus01 Avatar
135 months ago
If Apple stand by their values, which I hope they will, they choose google IF google is actually a better map product. "We just want to make a product as good as possible", I remember Jobs used to say. Hope they do so.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Piggie Avatar
135 months ago
Google is in panic mode, and this ad hoc presentation with no product availability date show it. They're basically saying "Hey, we used to be important in maps." What's worse is that Apple will probably move completely away from Google in the next few years. Maps is just the beginning; Google search will be obsoleted when Siri and semantic voice search comes to its full potential.
Meanwhile, back on planet earth. :D

How lucky we ALL are to have a company such as Google mapping the entire earth for us.
Only a few years ago, no, Google maps, No Google Earth.
We forget just how much work, time and effort has been done, and, in effect given to the worlds population to all use for free.
There is a lot of hate (esp here) for Google, but really, we should be so grateful, no other company would have gone out and done this for the mass public and just let us all use it like this.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacFather Avatar
135 months ago
Deleted.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FFArchitect Avatar
135 months ago
Please get this into flight sims.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dangerous Theory Avatar
135 months ago
If Apple stand by their values, which I hope they will, they choose google IF google is actually a better map product. "We just want to make a product as good as possible", I remember Jobs used to say. Hope they do so.

I agree. I just want the best mapping solution, not an Apple-branded product just because it's Apple branded.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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