Sunday 2 October 2011

Google Map 3D Now Shows You Helicopter View

Google is adding a new "helicopter view" option for directions in Google Maps, enabling you to see your trip from above in full 3D glory. Google is making use of its Earth view engine for this and it's a great way of both making people aware that they can see 3D content in Google Maps but also a way making trip planning more fun.

"Getting directions is one of the most popular features on Google Maps, whether it be for driving, walking, biking or transit," Paul Yang, a Google Maps engineer, wrote.

"Today, we are launching a new feature that allows you to bring your upcoming trip to life, by allowing you to preview your route in 3D," he announced.
The feature is now available to all users, but you need the Earth view plugin to make use of it. Enabling the feature is easy. Just plan out a route, like usual.


You'll see the regular directions page, but there is now a 3D button next to the starting point. Hitting it will switch from the 2D map view to the 3D Earth view.

Then you'll be able to follow along as your trip is played back via the 3D engine. You can pause it at any moment and then move around, zoom in and check out the view from different angles.

You can also jump directly to another part of the trip by clicking on any step from the list on the left. Of course, once you're done, you can switch back to the 2D view by clicking on the 2D button.

The big caveat is that you have to install the Google Earth plugin for any of this to work. The plugin is available for most browsers on Windows, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Mac OS X, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox. Linux users are out of luck.