View Your Route In A Virtual Helicopter In New Google Maps 3D

Ever wondered what your route would look like if you were flying in a chopper? After giving us their uber-popular Satellite View, Street View and Earth View, Google Maps has now brought us Helicopter (chopper) View. Now, when ever you plug in a route on the Google Maps site, you’ll start to see a new “3D” button that will show you your route as if you were flying on a chopper (helicopter).

We think this is yet another great innovative step after Google introduced 3D Trees, Closer Street View Integration in Google Earth 6 last year. This new helicopter view offers an aerial view (courtesy of Google Earth) of your route — a bit like taking a helicopter ride instead of your car.

How to Use Helicopter View in Google Maps?

You will first need the Google Earth plug-in for the function to work.  To see the 3D button – which shows up next to ‘driving directions’ in the left hand bar – you first have to click the ‘Earth’ mapping option, which shows up when you hover over ‘Map’ in the upper right hand corner.  You will then be prompted to download the plug-in.

The smoothness of your experience is somewhat dependent on your internet connection speed and your computer’s processing power.

Start by entering your starting point, destination, and mode of transport like any directions.  Then, click on the ‘3D’ play button. The map will switch to Earth view and automatically start flying you along your recommended route.

You can pause the flight by clicking anywhere in the 3D view or on the pause button in the lower left of the map. While the flight is paused, you can explore the surrounding area in 3D by clicking and dragging the map.

In fact, You can get back to 2D mode by clicking on the ‘2D’ button in the left panel at any time.

You could even take a break from your helicopter ride and click on photos, YouTube videos or Wikipedia pages that are geo-linked to locations along your route.

However, 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 Google Blog post).

3D route previews, on first glance, appear to combine the Google Earth and Google Maps experiences quite nicely. But we wonder when it will be available for Indian routes, especially after Bangalore suspended Google’s Street View Service.

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