Google Maps is the undoubtedly the king of online mapping. With directions for bikers, walkers, public transit users, as well as traffic and street views, Maps can get you anywhere. Now, Google is taking the Maps user experience to the next level with its newly introduced Earth view feature within the Google Maps app. With Earth view, the search giant proves once again that it’s always ahead of the curve, and focused on providing an enriching user experience unmatched by its competitors.
Earth view combines features of the Google Earth downloadable application with the popular browser-based Maps app to give users a true 3D viewing experience. Previously, the Maps app only provided 2D views of selected areas with the Satellite view. Street view added to a more interactive Maps experience, but the feature lacked true 3D. Now, users can discover their surroundings in a whole new way. Even better, the viewing experience is much more fluid for browsers, boasting a smooth fly-through interface and the ability to view buildings from a variety of angles.
Google is always adding and upgrading features on its many apps to make the user experience richer and easier. As one of its most popular apps, Google Maps is continually being updated to provide users with the best product available, and to innovate the entire Web. Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering for Google Geo wrote on Google’s official blog, “Web browsers haven’t exactly been standing still … As their capacity to handle richer applications has steadily grown, our ability to bring Google Earth online has grown along with it.” Google recognized the growth and power of browsers and computing technology, and they’ve found a way to keep up.
Earth view is a great step for Maps, because it will bring users to the application for reasons other than just finding a way from Point A to Point B. Earth view provides awe-inspiring shots of popular buildings and landmarks, built digitally using Google’s Building Maker application. Current hotspot views include the Eifel Tower, Roman Coliseum, Mount Everest, and even the Titanic. Although many of the 3D images are limited, this new view should encourage more users to join in on the development of buildings that have yet to be digitally built for Google Earth. With this technology now available, Google could potentially merge services such as Places with Earth view, giving businesses a one-of-a-kind way to market, brand, and interact with customers.
Though Google Earth is a popular application, the introduction of Earth view may be a sign that Google is fully integrating it into its existing online platform. Google Earth’s standalone service currently offers more features than it’s browser-friendly application – including KML editing, historical imagery, GPS tracks, tour-creation, Mars, Sky, flight simulator – but Google could easily introduce these features to the browser platform in the near future. Considering Google’s focus on cloud computing and Web-based platforms, a move such as this seems more than likely. Google’s focus on an enriched user experience is what keeps them on top, and the competition on their toes.