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Monday, October 27, 2008

Google Earth comes to the Iphone


Google Earth. On the iPhone. That is, I would imagine, all you need to know to send you careening off to the App Store, from where you can grab the free download of Google's Aerial Opus.

What's surprising about this iteration of Google Earth is the speed at which it runs. A few years back my Mac notebook (an iBook) struggled to run Google Earth without glitching. This version speeds along at a fair clip, although a bad data connection will certainly slow things down -- like the desktop version, the application is constantly streaming data from the web.

The iPhone niceties you'd expect are here. Pinch to zoom, twist to, well, spin the map. This should be a boon for German tourists in Barcelona, whose over-accurate maps depict the coastline as running on a diagonal, just as it is in real life. This leaves locals baffled when helping the Germans out with directions -- all our maps reference the sea as "down" and the mountains as "up" and sticks the blue strip of water straight across the bottom of the map, throwing everything off by an innacurate – yet easier to use – 45º.

Tilting the iPhone will tilt the horizon and you can then use a finger to "throw" the landscape below you. There's also a compass in the top right corner which moves as you spin the maps. And of course, the app can find you using the location functions of the iPhone.

The app lacks a lot of features of its big brother: No road markings, for example. But results for both Wikipedia and Panoramio pop up -- an easy way to find places of interest nearby. Go try it. It's free, and fun.

-Charlie Sorrel