In today’s The Next Dimension of Google Maps live event, Google released and demo-ed a whole slew of new features. Some of those features are offline maps, a person street-view camera, new 3D model system, and feature areas for Google Earth.
The offline support, for the Android version of Google Maps, allows you to save a section of a map and download it for future offline use. You can drag and pull the section of the map that you want and then download it. The offline map is the same as an online map, feature and look wise, allowing you to zoom in and out all the way to street level. As long as you still have GPS, the blue dot will work in offline mode and you will be able to get navigation on your offline map.
Examples provided by Google were parks and forests, or even the small alleyways in a city like Venice. This setup will also allow for more indoor maps and directions. I could see this being used to map out the downtowns of walking cities like Indianapolis and mapping out trails in national parks.
Google creates the new 3D models by having planes take aerial photos in tight patterns from multiple 45 degree angles. Then stereophotogrammetry is used to recreate 3D data of the area and a mesh is created for each building in the area, all done automatically by a computer. The end result are beautiful 3D buildings that can be viewed at all angles.
The last thing Google announced was featured areas for Google Earth. In the example they provided on the iPad Google Earth app, there is a scrollable list with locations like the San Francisco City Hall and Candlestick Park. When you click on one of the locations, it does a fly-by type movement around the location. Pretty neat to explore a city and everything it has to offer.