Google's new 3D Maps destroy Manhattan in the wake of Apple's Flyover

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Michelle Steiner, May 23, 2013.

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    Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 06:05 pm
    By Daniel Eran Dilger
    Nearly a year after Apple introduced its own Maps service in iOS 6 with
    Flyover 3D satellite views, Google is expanding its own online Maps to
    support similar 3D satellite imagery, with the same sorts of buckled roads
    and visual distortions Apple was castigated for last summer.

    Introducing the new Google Maps with 3D

    Unlike Apple's iOS 6 Maps, which target relatively low powered mobile
    devices, the new 3D features in Google Maps that were introduced last week
    require a modern PC running a web browser with a supported version of WebGL
    hardware accelerated rendering.

    That limits Google Maps' photorealistic 3D features to users of Chrome or
    Firefox on a Mac or Windows PC. Mobile users will have to settle for grey
    3D building models or use the increasingly outdated Google Earth, which
    unlike Apple Maps' Flyover feature, is not integrated with the search and
    directions of Google's mobile Maps apps.

    This makes the new Google Maps more akin to Nokia's web-based Maps 3D.
    Nokia's product, which while leveraging the same technology Apple acquired
    to build iOS Maps' Flyover features, is also limited to the desktop web
    browser. A year after Apple launched iOS 6 with Flyover, neither Google nor
    Nokia have a similar, integrated 3D visualization feature for their own
    mobile platforms.

    Were Google to launch a 3D Maps app for Android with similar specifications
    to its current desktop maps product, it would only work on about 29 percent
    of the platform's reported installed base of devices, just like the
    company's Google Now, which requires Jelly Bean 4.1.

    Access to the new Google Maps also requires an invitation, which links your
    online session to your Google account, reinforcing the company's ad-centric
    business model. The company's introduction to the new generation of Google
    Maps first highlights search features, then notes how the new product
    focuses on promoting businesses, "like restaurants that are recommended by
    your Google+ friends," as shown in the graphic below.

    The last feature Google highlights is "amazing imagery for exploring the
    world," of which the company observes, "of course, no map would be complete
    without amazing images for exploring the world." Oddly enough, Google is
    pointing out that its own latest mobile maps for Android and iOS are not as
    "complete" as Apple's own iOS 6 Maps.

    "The new carousel gathers all Google Maps imagery in one spot enabling you
    to fly through cities," it notes, carefully avoiding the "Flyover" term
    Apple introduced a year ago. And again, only on the desktop, and currently
    only in an invite-only beta, can Google Maps users "find the Earth view
    which directly integrates the beautiful 3D experience from Google Earth
    into the new maps."

    Google Maps 3D messes with Manhattan

    Despite its years of experience in 2D digital mapping, Google's year late,
    non-mobile 3D Maps product is riddled with the same kind of glitches that
    Apple scrambled to address after the release of its own new Maps was
    greeted with contempt and derision. And users don't have to scour the
    planet to find undulating roads and smeared buildings in remote areas.

    AppleInsider reader Vesko Kateliev shared Google Map's above image of
    Midtown Manhattan (detailed at the native resolution, below), where roads
    turn into waterfalls and parked cars slide up the side of of a building as
    if trying to escape from a rolling wave of energy twisting buildings and
    bulging roads into the air.

    Apple's Flyover representation of the same area (below) is detailed enough
    to see that the building Google portrays as being smeared with taxis is
    actually a JC Penney, and you can even make out that the adjacent billboard
    is an iPad commercial. Apple even does a much better job at labels for
    points of interest and streets. Apple also labels 6th Avenue by its
    official name, "Avenue of the Americas," although a search of "6th Ave"
    also works.

    Spin around Herald Square from the opposite direction and Google Map's 3D
    turns its trees into a strange pillar of goo (below top), a visualization
    that is clearly bested by Apple's detailed Flyover view in iOS 6 Maps
    (below bottom).

    While Google does a better job with major landmarks like the Empire State
    Building (below top), Apple's Flyover version is both much more detailed
    (an impressive feat given the processing power of the iPad compared to a
    desktop PC) and offers a clearer representation of its surroundings
    (visible in the two images below it).

    Apple advancing its own Maps

    So far, there hasn't been any embittered contempt voiced by the tech media
    for Google's attempts to chase Apple's Flyover coattails with a seriously
    flawed offering that doesn't even work on mobile devices; the sloppy
    release of Google's own 3D product also calls into question the company's
    hubris in fueling smear campaigns against Apple's own mapping product last

    Apple has been focused on enhancing its own product, meeting the needs of
    developers and hiring new staff to work on the project.

    Additional advancement of Maps for iOS 7, and perhaps on the Mac in OS X
    10.9, is expected to be announced next month at the company's Worldwide
    Developer Conference.

    Google has apparently felt the pinch of losing its default position as the
    Maps app iOS users see on their Home screen, as just last month the
    company's chair and former Apple board member Eric Schmidt said, "we would
    still really like them to use our maps" as the default choice in iOS.

    "It would be easy for them to take the app in the store and put it as their
    basic one," he observed.

    You don't need to be 'straight' to fight for your country. You just need to
    shoot straight.
    -- Barry Goldwater
    Michelle Steiner, May 23, 2013
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  2. Michelle Steiner

    Alan Browne Guest

    Oh <yawn>. On my mobile all I want is the fricken map and _maybe_ a
    satellite view from time to time.

    And on my mobile the most useful feature is search when I'm in a new
    city and looking for something particular.
    Alan Browne, May 23, 2013
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  3. Michelle Steiner

    JF Mezei Guest

    On mobile, I woudl want bigger text fonts for street names so I can read
    them while moving or on a bumpy bus.
    JF Mezei, May 23, 2013
  4. <yawn> when Google does it; incensed outraged when Apple does it.
    Michelle Steiner, May 23, 2013
  5. Michelle Steiner

    JF Mezei Guest

    Google gets into the eye candy after having built pretty solid core
    mapping database.

    Apple went into eye candy before having solid core mapping database.
    JF Mezei, May 23, 2013
  6. Michelle Steiner

    Alan Browne Guest

    The point with Apple was not what they did (that looked very slick and
    nice) but that it contained so many inaccuracies and that it _replaced_
    Google Maps in that iOS release leaving people without the tried and
    (mostly) true.

    I just got access to the new Google Maps (web) and the building
    rendering is not very good at all IMO. It sort of works but there is a
    medium distance where buildings look really strange and blobby
    (unfinished in their "conversion" from a 2D photo from the top into the
    3D rendering).

    Not impressed with it at all. But the old Google Maps is still there.
    Alan Browne, May 23, 2013
  7. Michelle Steiner

    Alan Browne Guest

    See my other reply to Michelle.
    Alan Browne, May 23, 2013
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