Thursday, October 13, 2011
Google Maps in WebGL
I've been thinking for a while that in the long term Google Maps on the desktop will move to become more like the experience of using Google Maps on Android phones. I think the first move towards that experience has now been taken with Google Maps in WebGL.
Google have rebuilt Google Maps using WebGL. In the Google Maps WebGL version you can zoom into and out of Street View imagery (check out the cool transition as you zoom in and out of Street View). Another impressive new feature is the really smooth transitions in the 45° aerial view rotations.
This new iteration of Google Maps also makes great use of 3D buildings. If you pan the map around you can see the perspective of the 3D buildings change to reflect your current map view. The shadows of the buildings also change throughout the day and through the year to reflect the real-time position of the sun.
For the best effect of all find some 45° aerial view imagery and zoom into Street View from aerial view.
To try the new Google Maps with WebGL you will need to visit Google Maps in Chrome 14+ or Firefox 8+ (the Dev Channel release of Firefox). You should then see a "Want to try something new?" link in the left-hand sidebar.