Last week, Google sent out invites to an event scheduled for today, promising to show attendees the “next dimension” of Google Maps. We wondered just what that might mean, and if Google was planning to up the ante with the sort of 3D data accessible through Maps. It turns out that wasn’t too far off the mark, as today the company has revealed several changes coming to its software, including new 3D content, but for the mobile version of Google Earth, not Maps.
Google Earth will be getting fully-rendered 3D data which covers entire metropolitan areas. The means by which Google is acquiring some of this 3D data fits nicely with some of our predictions, including new processing techniques being applied to the satellite, Street View, and 45-degree imagery Google already has. We should see this sort of coverage slowly start increasing, eventually hitting areas that are home to some 300 million people.
The other big mobile component of today’s news concerns offline use. We’ve already seen Google allow users to pre-cache map data as a Labs feature, but now the company is pushing it towards the big-time with today’s announcement of offline Google Maps for Android soon coming to 100 countries around the world. It’s not yet clear just which data sets this news covers, but we’re optimistic it could offer many more features than the basic pre-caching available now.
Google also discussed its efforts to help make Maps data as accurate as can be, plans to expand Map Maker access to more countries, and the introduction of new Street View data taken with a human-mounted camera in places vehicles just can’t go.