3D cities are coming to the iPad, but it won’t be from Google; at least not yet.
A French company called Newscape has been demoing their Mobile 3D City software for the iPad, and it looks very slick. Here’s a brief video of the software in action:
As ReadWriteWeb says, it’s certainly not as full-featured Google Earth. For one thing, it’s only a single city at a time (starting with Paris). The other shortcoming is the size of the visible area. You’ll notice in the demo that it shows a small block of land with black space all around. I assume this is to keep things running smoothly, which it certainly does.
Another neat thing is that their 3D city technology works on the iPhone as well. In fact, their “Paris 3D” app is available for download now for a cost of $3.99 (iTunes link). Here’s a quick look at the iPhone version:
The iPhone version weighs in at a whopping 453MB, which seems to indicate that all of the data is stored in the app and not streamed over the air like Google Earth. While this helps it to load the buildings much more quickly, it’s a lot of space to consume on your phone and limits the speed with which they can update it.
Is it possible that Google is working on a similar upgrade for Google Earth? While a 3D Google Earth would likely require more horsepower than this app, mobile devices are getting more powerful all the time. The iPad is an amazing machine, and Google has already shown that Android 2.2 can run apps considerably faster than the iPad as they demonstrated at Google I/O. With even more powerful phones coming out, like the Droid X and it’s dedicated GPU, it seems likely that we’ll see 3D buildings in a mobile version of Google Earth at some point. Will they arrive in 2010? It’s anyone’s guess. What do you think?