Google releases 3D maps app for iOS months before Apple’s will be ready

SF Google Earth for iOS

Google apparently didn’t spend time pouting over Apple’s plans to displace its Google Maps app for iOS with its own. Instead, it went to work: On Thursday the company announced in a blog post that it has now added 3D imagery to its Google Earth for iOS app.

By swiping over Google Earth images on an iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or new iPad, users can feel like they’re virtually flying over cityscapes. Right now the feature works for 12 regions, mostly in the western U.S., and one city in Europe (Rome). The U.S. cities include: Boulder, Colo., Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Lawrence, Kan., Long Beach, Calif., Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., San Diego, Santa Cruz, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Tucson, Ariz., and San Francisco, plus its East Bay and Peninsula neighbors.

Google announced the feature in a what appeared to be a hastily called press conference ahead of Apple’s WWDC conference in June. As expected, at its event Apple announced its own maps effort, which will include turn-by-turn directions and a Flyover feature that shows cities in 3D from above, similar to what Google has done with Google Earth. The falling out over Maps was a glaring example of Apple’s growing distaste for giving Google any kind of platform on Apple’s own products.

While there are some differences in the two companies’ offerings (for example, Apple’s Flyover feature so far includes 11 cities, and the mix is a bit more international in flavor) the biggest one is this: Apple’s much-lauded Flyover feature, and the entire maps for iOS package won’t be delivered until sometime this fall when iOS 6 is released. And Google’s is available now.


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