Arguably the niftiest thing since the sliced bread, Google Maps has been a near God-sent gift for the lost and the wary, even at times besting Sat Navs and GPS devices with its one of a kind Street Views. Now the internet giant is set to roll out new features and additions to its map service in something that it describes as being a “personal helicopter.”
At present, the service itself is being used by close to a billion users, but though it maybe inherently popular, reports have suggested that trouble has been brewing for Google and its map service. The first indication of this was when it was rumored that Apple would be announcing, at its annual developer’s conference next week, that it would no longer be using the Google service, possibly planning to introduce its own map service for its smartphones and tablets. Some developers, from a long list of some 800,000 who use Google Maps, have also apparently said they wish to discontinue using the service.
Of course, with such news going around, Google announced on Wednesday, at a media event in San Francisco, that it would be offering a new and improved mapping service, whetting the appetite with its latest 3D additions.
The 3D service, known as Google Imagery, will be offering 3D cityscapes to users and because this will all be computer generated, users will be able to manipulate and maneuver the 3D cities, allowing the users to zoom in and out as well as have the traditional street and building views.
Google Maps’ vice president of engineering, Brian McClendon, said about the new, improved map service, "It's much more than finding a way home," and Peter Birch, program manager for Google Maps, explained, "We are trying to create magic here. It's almost as if you are in a personal helicopter hovering over the city."
Peter Birch told the BBC that the new service would be made available for both Android and Apple phones in a couple of weeks and that a PC version would be released later this year. Birch also reacted to the possibility of Apple discontinuing the map service on its smartphones and tablets saying, "I can't really speculate on what the rumours may be… Apple is a good partner of ours. We have a lot fantastic applications already on the platform. Google Earth is one of the top applications, and we've been on Apple devices since 2008. It's a really fantastic showcase for the platform and we're really excited to be offering new features."