File Under: Web Services

Google Maps, Now With Virtual Helicopter Rides

Fly the California coastline, without the helicopter hair

Google has announced a new 3D preview option in Google Maps. The Google LatLong blog refers to the new route preview as “helicopter view,” since it offers an aerial view (courtesy of Google Earth) of your route, a bit like taking a helicopter instead of your car.

To see the helicopter preview in action, just plug in a route and then look for the little “3D” button next to your driving directions. Don’t see a 3D button? Well, that’s the major downside at the moment — limited coverage.

As far as I’ve been able to test it doesn’t seem like the 3D preview features works much outside of popular, well-known routes (like the California coast drive featured in the LatLong Blog post).

If your route doesn’t have a 3D button, fear not, there’s nothing really new about helicopter preview, save the nice integration via the new button. Google Maps has long offered an in-browser view of Google Earth, so you can always fly over your route. It just won’t be nicely automated.

For more details on helicopter view, check out the LatLong Blog. To see it in action, try out the Carmel to Big Sur route that the LatLong team demos.

In unrelated Google news, the company is now brewing beer. That’s right, Google beer (actually brewed by the folks at Dogfish Head). There’s a promo movie about the process over on YouTube.

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