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Google Earth Coming to iPhone Shortly, Aussies Have It Now [U]

Cnet reports of an upcoming version of Google Earth which will be available for all iPhone users shortly. With the new application, Google is hoping to replicate much of the desktop richness found in their native Google Earth application, directly on your iPhone.

Google Earth can show rich images of earth, and works instinctively as a touch input app. Just as would be expected.

Back in 2004, Google bought a company specializing in web-based software that allowed users to view satellite imagery from anywhere in the world. The company was called Keyhole, and Google had its eyes set on what would later become Google Earth as we know it today. Google Earth’s product manager Peter Birch explains,”The idea of having Earth on a mobile device is something people dreamed of back to the Keyhole days and before…This is the first opportunity we’ve had to be able to deliver a great experience.”

I tried the application late last week and was impressed how well the iPhone version kept up with the performance, features, and usability of Google Earth for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux–at least, while using a Wi-Fi network connection. For example, your view of the world starts looking straight down, but you can tilt the view so terrain contours are visible, and generating that variable perspective takes some significant processing, Stephen Shankland explains for Cnet.

What’s most interesting to me, though, is that the iPhone’s multitouch screen actually made using the application easier than the PC versions. Dragging a fingertip across the screen slides the view appropriately, of course. Two-finger pinch gestures not only zoom in and out, but also, by adding a little twirling rotary motion, steer the view’s orientation in one direction or another.

“One of the challenges we face with Google Earth is people aren’t used to moving around in 3D, especially if you’re moving around with a mouse,” Birch said. Referencing Apple’s new notebook family with location awareness, “Macs have multitouch on them,” Birch said. “That’s something we could consider.”

Australian App Store users will get to try the software first, and as of 8pm on Sunday, October 26th, they’ve been able to download the app for free. Google explains that it will be available in 20 countries, running in all 18 languages the iPhone supports.

While Google has indeed made a little splash with Android, it’s nice to see the company recognize Apple’s iPhone for what it is. Not letting competition get in the way of innovation can be very tough in a dense, fast-paced industry, which can adversely affect what the consumer ends up using. Luckily for us, Google and Apple seem to have found a positive balance for the time being.

Update: Check out a video of the application in action.

It is now available in the iTunes App Store as well.

Explore – Google Earth

Comments [4]

4 Comments to “Google Earth Coming to iPhone Shortly, Aussies Have It Now [U]

tonytwodimes @ October 26th, 2008 at 9:52 pm
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And then G1 gets it in a few days. And then the G1 will get something new, and the the iPhone will get that… and it’ll go back and forth like this. You know why?

Because Apple knows the G1 is just a temporary “trial” device. Not a competitor, or game-changer like the iPhone.


Alonzo @ October 26th, 2008 at 9:58 pm
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Allllll without flash.. LOL — flash is so worthless.


Francis @ October 27th, 2008 at 9:39 am
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I don’t get it! The iPhone/iPod Touch has already a similar application (Maps), which is being updated temporarily. Why do we need a second application from Google, with the same objective?

BTW, it’s also on the US iTunes Store, now! ;)


Stop Smoking @ October 27th, 2008 at 3:13 pm
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This looks great! Amazing. Makes you wonder what’s next…