While Google claimed long before Android’s release that having their own mobile OS would not dampen their enthusiasm for the iPhone platform, I had my doubts. How was it possible that the iPhone would not get short-changed overall, with preference and primary focus going to Android apps and support? For now, at least, it seems like my concern was uncalled for.
Following closely on the heels of the news that the iPhone 2.2 firmware beta does indeed contain support for street view in Google Maps, another native application from the Google team has landed. Google Earth is the app in question.
As most of you are probably aware, Google Earth is the slightly unnerving Big Brother-style software that allows people to be voyeurs from space with a satellite-mapped version of the globe. The iPhone version is no different. Like its desktop and webapp counterparts, it offers address and keyword searching, but, taking advantage of the iPhone’s locations services, you can also pinpoint and zoom in on your current location. Other iPhone specific features include the ability to zoom in and out, rotate, and move the view using multi-touch gestures, and the ability to tilt the phone to change your viewing angle.
The app works well over WiFi, 3G, and EDGE, and loads much faster than the comparable (though much less fully featured) Earthscape, which has been available for some time. Even with the optional overlay of geo-tagged photos and Wikipedia articles enabled, loading times were minimal. I would, however, caution those with limited data plans against using it too much on cellular networks, since it seems to be a data-heavy application.
Google Earth is available in the App Store now for free.