Google Earth for mobile is taking it to a whole new level with a refreshed interface and the recent addition of Street View for Android and iOS devices. Google first added Street View and the updated interface to Google Earth for Android several weeks ago, while the recent update brings the iOS app on par with Android.
Street View comes to Google Earth after being available on Google Maps for Mobile for some time. At first glance, it may not make much sense to add Street View to yet another mobile app, but Street View is a nice complement to Google Earth's 3D renderings and satellite imagery.
Following the trend in mobile apps, Google has also added a left-side navigation drawer to access layers such as places, Wikipedia, and borders and labels. Google says the new app also has improved directions functionality allowing you to "visualize step-by-step transit, walking and biking directions in full 3D"--but good luck finding them. In my short time with the app, I couldn't figure out where Google had stashed the directions feature. Stick with Google Maps for directions for now.
Checking out the view
Taking a quick tour of Google Earth on a Nexus 4 running Android 4.2, Street View functions similarly to Street View on the desktop. In Google Maps for Android, you get to Street View by tapping on a place marker and then choosing Street View from a menu of options. The place markers menu in Google Earth is already taken up by location information and a selection of user-generated photos. So instead of cramming it in the secondary menu, Google's beloved Pegman shows up ready to be dropped onto the map whenever Street View is available in Google Earth.
At first glance, this may seem like sheer lunacy, since you could never use your finger to drop the Street View Pegman as precisely as you can on a PC with a mouse. Nevertheless, dropping into Google Earth for Mobile worked quite well and most of the time you should end up where you intended.
However, as you can see front the image at left, taken during my virtual adventures in Vancouver, Canada it doesn't always work out. Dropping Pegman into a part of the map where Street View isn't available switches you to Ground View, where you get to check out your surroundings in 3D-generated glory.
Once you're in Street View, checking things out is pretty straightforward. You double-tap to move forward on the map, following either a yellow or white line laid out in front of you, and you can pinch to zoom or scroll with your finger to change the view.
Google Earth with Street View for Android and iOS is available now from Google Play and iTunes.
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