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Google’s 3D “immersive view” isn’t completely ready, but you can get a glimpse of it starting today. The company is rolling out updates to Google Maps for Android and iOS that introduce aerial views of close to 100 famous landmarks, including Alcatraz in San Francisco, Big Ben in London and the Empire State Building in New York City. The feature melds AI with billions of images (including satellite and Street View shots) to create realistic 3D views. Google pitches this as a preview tool for tourists, but it’s also a handy way to satisfy your curiosity without booking a flight.
Aerial views are accessible to users worldwide. If one is available, you just have to find a landmark in Google Maps and visit the Photos section.
There’s also a pair of more conventional but very practical upgrades. Google is upgrading Maps’ cycling navigation with more detailed routing info, including heavy car traffic, stairs, steep hills and road types (such as a major thoroughfare versus a side street). You’ll also have an easier time comparing routes. The biking upgrades will reach “hundreds” of cities in the weeks ahead.
On top of this, there are new location sharing notifications that let you know when a friend arrives at (or leaves) a given place. This could help you find out when fellow concert-goers have reached the venue, for instance. The notifications only kick in for people who’ve already agreed to share their locations, and Google promises app and email notifications to ensure people don’t leave sharing enabled any longer than necessary.
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