In a move that continues to extend Google’s dominance in the world of mobile mapping apps, Google Earth has been updated to version 7.1.1. In addition to interface changes, street view has been added and the service is now available in over 100 countries worldwide.
The significance of this update shouldn’t be understated because it’s not just the addition of features that desktop users have had access to all along but is instead a bundled set of features with an adventure theme.
Google has added street view to Google Earth using a very intuitive design and an intelligent implementation. When you are zoomed in close enough then the street view icon appears and you can drag it onto the map. If street view is available then the map changes angles and morphs through ground level view into street view. It looks really nice and the animated transition really works. If there isn’t street view at that location then it still zooms in to ground level view and displays any available 3D buildings and landscape. When there isn’t any 3D mapping available then you just get ground level view of a flat area.
When in street view you can click to move, drag to rotate, and double drag to zoom. This is simplicity at its best and a move away from the full version with its blue lines, its more complex zooming shapes, and arrows for following roads. Google has removed the distractions and made it about exploring.
The other part of this update is that the service is now available in over 100 countries worldwide. This means you can explore your surroundings when traveling around the globe both virtually and physically. Obviously street view won’t replace going to places in person but it can help you see places you can’t afford to see or help you plan your trip so you know where you are going first.
It’s unclear what Apple’s intentions are with its mapping app because when they broke the partnership with Google Maps last year it should have been to introduce something amazing. Here we are still wanting more and getting it from Google.