By using “automated technology to extract 3D from aerial images,” Google plans to improve their 3D maps givign a new dimension to the renderings on your iOS (and Android) devices! These new features were promised to us “in the coming weeks” (no specific launch date was give) and will serve to significantly improve both the Google Maps service and the Google Earth application.
By taking advantage of Google-owned airplanes that fly in carefully orchestrated patterns, “images of the ground are snapped from 45 degrees at four angles, and those pictures and data can be combined to recreate maps in three dimensions.” A variety of algorithms create the shape and color of the structures in those images and build 3D models in a full automated process that does not require any human interaction.
With this new functionality, combined with the existing 2D mapping and vector data, Google may just be able to provide vertical location information sometime in the (not as distant) future.
Google also announced that those with Android devices will soon enjoy offline versions of their Maps software and that while they are “working very hard” to bring that same functionality to iOS devices, there are no details on when that may happen.
The timing of Google’s announcement comes just a few days before Apple’s WWDC event during which most people are expecting to learn about Apple’s attempt at their own Maps software for iOS devices and thus ditching their current use of Google Maps. If this proves true it shouldn’t come as any surprise to anybody as Apple has been acquiring mapping companies like Placebase and C3 over the past several years.
One tidbit you may find interesting is that the demo given by Google was done using an iPad and not an Android device.