The race for 3D maps started when rumors started that Apple would be adding 3D maps app to the iOS. Although, the only 3D maps available at the moment are from Google and you can get them for your iPad and iPhone right now if you want to. However, the virtual models are only offered for a few cities at the moment that includes Los Angeles, Rome, Geneva, San Francisco, and Boston. However, Google plans to add more virtual models in the coming weeks. The iOS 6 Maps app is currently in beta and its public launch is expected to be sometime after this fall, so there is a lot of time on your hands, which you can spend enjoying the 3D maps by Google.
So far, the Apple iOS 6 Maps app includes “flyover” mode for places/cities such as Las Vegas, Chicago, LA, Copenhagen, Miami, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal, Melbourne, Sydney, and Sacramento. As far as we know, these may not change until the release date.
If you are thinking about doing a comparison between the 3D models provided by both Apple and Google, then here is something you should know. You might encounter low-memory warning on your Apple device (which we did, when it was used on an iPhone 4S). However, there were no large background apps running, not even paused apps. With that being said, the 3D models of Apple iOS 6 Maps app looked higher resolution models as compared to Google’s 3D models.
One annoying thing that you should know about Google Earth is that, it is really twitchy! Even a small gesture would cause it to take actions that you did not wanted to take, like massive zoom or losing the current position – completely! If you think that is not annoying enough then hear this – there is no “back button” which will let you go to your last location, so in order to do so; you will have to start over again – from scratch.
However, there is a plus side to Google Earth because it has several features that are not announced for the Apple iOS 6 Maps yet. This includes a “tour guide” as well, which offers cinematic pans over attractions in the locale you are currently viewing on the maps, with additional info provided from Wikipedia. Another good thing to note in the Google Earth is the animating transition between locations to keep the users spatially oriented. You can notice these animating transitions when you are zooming in or out, or when flying over locations.
But keep in mind that the Google Earth is not a full on Maps replacement because so far, it does not include any of the basic direction features and other Google experiences such as turn-by-turn directions and/or Street View.
When Apple iOS 6 Maps app is launched this fall or later – Google will not be the only map data provider on iPad or iPhone. It will be interesting to see what happens, but for the time being, Google Earth needs better memory handling and better models as well.