Three weeks ago today, Google announced its latest advancements in mobile mapping, seen as a direct response to Apple’s decision to abandon Google map data in iOS and go with its own collection of data sources. Not content to let Apple have all the fun with new 3D map displays, Google announced a big change for the mobile version of Earth, bringing its own city-wide 3D data to select areas. That latest version of Earth has just now become available for download.
Google Earth 7.0 brings this 3D mode to its renderings of Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Geneva, and Rome, with more promised for the future.
Rather than model these entire areas by hand, Google relies on extracting data from its existing satellite, Street View, and 45-degree imagery. As a result of that, what you’ll see is less than perfect; tress, for example, can look like large, thick blobs jutting out of the ground, rather than depicting an appropriately thin trunk with larger mass of leaves up top. While perfectly understandable based on how Google prepared this data, it detracts a little from the complete experience. Buildings, on the other hand, fare quite a bit better, and on a whole, it’s still very impressive.
In addition to this new Earth becoming available, the changes Google announced for Maps are here as well, integrating indoor Street View content, adding support for your phone’s compass hardware, and bringing its offline mode out of Labs to become a full-fledged feature.