Google is yet again adding features to Google Maps which bring it closer to Google Earth. In February Google added building outlines to major cities when you zoom in close. Now Google has added 2.5D buildings to some of those cities for Google Maps. You can’t rotate or tilt your view, so it’s 2D. But, the buildings have shaded 3D-like projections from an angle so you get an idea of height and shape of the buildings. See an example by going to this Google Map. Looks like about 35 cities have the buildings in the US, and Tokyo.
By the way, I believe these buildings are directly coming from those old “gray 3D buildings” Google has had in Google Earth since it was released back in June 2005. Now that I think about it, I’m kind of surprised Google didn’t implement this 2.5D version of the buildings in Google Maps sooner. Of course, it probably took a while to create the 2D projections, optimize the imagery, and generate the database for all zoom levels possible for Google Maps. And its not like Google hasn’t been doing lots of other interesting things to the Geo products!
Related: 3D Buildings in Google Earth