October 3, 2011
Helicopter View Feature for Google Maps Unveiled
Over this past weekend, Google Maps rolled out a new, 3D bird's-eye view which allows users of the navigation service to explore as if they were traveling in a virtual helicopter, various media outlets reported on Sunday.
According to Simon Tomlinson of the Daily Mail, "The new feature gives you a moving aerial perspective of your route when you enter start and end destinations in Google Maps“¦ The journey is automatically followed, although you can pause it anywhere in the 3D display and drag the map around to explore the surrounding area or landmarks."
Viewers will have to have the Google Earth plug-in installed in order for the new helicopter mode to work, notes Chris Davies of Slashgear. Furthermore, Davies says that in order to even locate the 3D button, which appears next to "driving directions" in the left-hand bar, users must first have clicked the "Earth" mapping option that appears by mousing-over the upper right corner.
"To help you keep track of which step you are on, the current leg of the trip is highlighted in the left panel. You can also jump to a different part of the trip by clicking on a different step," Google Maps Engineer Paul Yang wrote in a September 29 blog entry announcing the new feature.
Yang added that users can switch back to 2D at any time by pressing the "2D" button in the left panel.
Yang's blog entry includes a photo of the California coastline, as it appears in Helicopter View, while Tomlinson's October 2 article features 3D renderings of London's Buckingham Palace and Canary Wharf, which can be viewed from multiple perspectives using the new Google Maps feature.
"Getting directions is one of the most popular features on Google Maps, whether it be for driving, walking, biking or transit," said Yang, adding that Helicopter View "allows you to bring your upcoming trip to life."
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