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Google Maps will feature fly-over views of the landscape

New mapping technology from Google includes a personal helicopter

Google executives held a media event on Wednesday in San Francisco to preview its latest mapping features.

Some of the new features include 3D enhancements to Google Earth, offline access, and the inclusion of fly-over views of the landscape.

"We are trying to create magic here," said Peter Birch, program manager for Google Maps. "It’s almost as if you are in a personal helicopter hovering over the city."

Google Imagery makes use of an automated process to generate detailed models from 45-degree aerial photos. This results in zoomable, 3D cityscapes with top and side level views of buildings.

The new Google Maps features will be available on Android and iOS devices in a matter of week, and on desktops by the end of the year.

There have been rumours that Apple may announce its own mapping app at this year’s WWDC to replace Google Maps on its smartphones and tablets. This comes after a backlash against Google by developers and publishers after it began charging for commercial use of its API last autumn.

Here’s a video demonstrating the new 3D imagery for Google Earth:

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