As expected, today Google announced that Google Maps will soon be available in 3D. Surprisingly the 3D maps will be available for both Android and iOS.
According to Engadget, Google’s new 3D maps will come to both platforms in the “coming weeks.” Google showed off the new version of Maps on an iPad running what looked like Google Earth instead of the standard Maps app. The new maps will definitely come to Google Earth on both platforms, though we’re not sure if they will come to the Google Maps app as well.
To create the new maps Google flew planes over several cities. The planes took the images at 45-degrees from multiple angles. Google then used an algorithm to stitch those images together into 3D models of the cities. Amazingly, nobody at Google needed to directly handle the images to create the 3D maps.
Google already has some semblance of 3D maps in the Android maps app, but it’s nothing like these maps. The new 3D maps look fantastic and life-like while the old 3D maps were just simple vectors. The new 3D maps actually map out the physical texture of structures, instead of just placing the images on a simple box.
Unfortunately we don’t know exactly when Google’s new 3D maps will be available. We do know, however, that when they are available, only a few cities will be available in 3D.
Google did spend some time at the event showing off its new street view image capturing tech, and it also announced offline Maps for Android, but the 3D announcement seems a bit early. The images are impressive, but we can’t help but feel like Google just wanted to get the announcement out there before Apple unveils its new Maps app with 3D maps at WWDC next week.