Google Maps Gets 3D Driving Directions


Getting driving directions is surely one of the most often used features of any online mapping service. Generally, those directions consist of step-by-step guides that are then mapped on the 2D map. Google today moved these directions into the 3rd dimension. Google Maps users can now opt to see a 3D preview of their routes. This tool makes use of the browser-based Google Earth view, a plugin Google makes available for all the major browsers on Windows and Mac.

Google earth driving directions in maps

Getting A "Helicopter View" of Your Trip

To get started, just use Google maps to get directions from one point to another and then look for the "3D" button in the sidebar. Google Maps will automatically switch to the Google Earth view and start flying along your recommended route. Google calls this the "helicopter view" of your route.

You are not restricted to just following the route from start to finish, though. You can also click on any part of the trip in the sidebar and jump right to that leg of your drive. You can also stop and restart the flight at any time.

6:31 pm

Modern Rome Goes 3D in Google Earth


A few years ago, Google added a 3D model of ancient Rome to Google Earth. Today, Google is also adding thousands of new 3D buildings for modern Rome to its inventory of 3D models. Just like other cities that recently got a 3D makeover in Google Earth, the Rome model is surprisingly detailed and complete. Few cities, of course, can boast of as rich a history as Rome, so being able to look at both a model of the city as it looked in 320AD and today makes for a very interesting teaching tool.

You can find a web-based demo what the new set of buildings looks like here.

For the historic model, Google partners with the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia. There, a group of students and teachers developed the Rome Reborn model that forms the basis of Google’s version of ancient Rome.

To see the 3D version of modern Rome in Google Earth, use Google Maps with Earth view or turn on Google Earth’s “3D Buildings” layer and search for “Rome, Italy.” Users can, of course, also use Google Building Maker or Google SketchUp to add their own models or improve upon existing ones.


11:21 pm

Google Earth for Android Tablets Gets 3D Buildings


Google today launched a major update of Google Earth for Android tablets and phones. This new version, which requires Android 2.1 for phones and Android 3.0 for tablets, is highly optimized for tablets. For Android phone users, there isn’t too much new here, but tablet users will now be able to see textured 3D buildings and get easier access to features like Places, Panoramio photos and Wikipedia articles.

The tablet-optimized interface looks nice, but the real star of this new version is obviously the addition of 3D buildings. Google has been stressing this feature of Google Earth on the desktop for quite a while now, by, for example, offering various cities in 3D already, launching a Building Maker that allows users to easily model buildings themselves and hosting a competition that encouraged communities in the U.S. to model their own town with Google’s tools.

Google Earth for iPad currently does not offer 3D buildings, but chances are that Google will bring this to iOS devices in the near future, too.


10:35 am

Google Earth Brings 3D Buildings to the Virtual San Francisco Bay Area


Google just announced that Google Earth now features high-quality 3D-models of virtually all of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Google’s hometown of Mountain View, Palo Alto, Oakland, Redwood City, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Sunnyvale. To see this expanded 3D coverage, you will need to turn on “3D Buildings” in Google Earth.

If you are using Google Earth 6.0 – the latest version currently available – you will also be able to see 3D trees in San Francisco.

Google already offers 3D buildings in other cities around its virtual globe in Google Earth, including New York. It is also worth noting that Microsoft’s Virtual Earth application was among the first to feature 3D buildings. Microsoft was able to generate these relatively quickly by using radar data to create its models while Google seems to be using a more manual hands-on approach.

If you would like to improve how your own building looks like in Google Earth or help create more 3D buildings, you can use Google’s easy to use Building Maker and SketchUp tools to do so.

10:58 am