Google Earth on the iPad

By now, most of you have heard all about Apple’s new iPad, their tablet computer. If you haven’t yet, check out Apple’s iPad page for some information, photos and videos. For us, the big question has been how well it’ll handle Google Maps and Google Earth. Before we can answer that, though, we need to look at the hardware.

Google Maps on the iPad

Unlike the latest iPhones, not all of the iPads have GPS built-in. They all include the digital compass and accelerometer, but only the 3G versions come with a GPS. It’s assumed that Apple figured a GPS would be less useful if you didn’t have a 3G connection, which I suppose is fair. However, I could use my Cradlepoint with it when I’m out and about, and others could use devices like the Verizon MiFi. Ultimately though, keeping the price at $499 for the basic model was a great decision, and removing GPS from the low end models certainly helped with that.
Speed-wise, everyone that has tested one says that it’s noticeably faster than the iPhone 3GS. Because it runs “almost all” of the iPhone apps, we can assume that the Google Earth app will run on here, and run well. Google Earth 2.0 for the iPhone is excellent, and it should translate well to iPad.
The next question is whether or not Google will update Google Earth specifically for the iPad. While most iPhone apps will run without a problem, they need to be scaled up to fill the screen, resulting in a chunkier image. If they were to rewrite the app specifically for the iPad, they could make it look much sharper. A year ago, I would have been quite sure they’d do it. Now, with Google’s push toward Android, it’s hard to say. Will Google put in the effort to update Google Earth for the iPad, or will more of their focus shift to Android? If we find out anything one way or another, we’ll be sure to let you know.
There had been speculation that Apple will be replacing Google Maps on the iPhone (and thus on the iPad) with their own system after the purchase of Placebase, but that’s not the case — at least not yet. Google Maps and StreetView look excellent on the iPad, but ultimately seem to be almost identical to the iPhone versions. Check out the video below for a quick look at it:

Without a doubt, Google Maps on the iPad looks to be a great experience. Here’s another short video of Google Maps on there, with Apple’s Phil Schiller demoing it. The speed and smoothness of the application is quite remarkable:

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one in the near future, fire up Google Earth and let us know what you think of it.
[UPDATE, June 2010Google Earth has been officially released on the iPad.]

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. A $500, giant iPhone that doesn’t support Flash or Silverlight? Where, oh where can I get one?

  2. I’m hoping that eventually apps using the Google Earth browser plugin will work on the device.

  3. I hope that too, I think the integration of Earth in websites are the future. The smartphones are at the limit running an earth app, but the iPad could do this. (Let’s hope that) Imagine, with Guided Tours from you could use the iPad as virtual assistant.

  4. I think they will, Google cares about its users, and for their users they are going to have the higher resolution imagery for the iPad. would not be surprising if right now they are developing it.

  5. What push for the Android? There still is not a Google Earth app for the platform. I don’t get the reason to worry about supporting a platform that will not even see the light of day for another 2 months when Google’s very own platform has been ignored for 15 months.

  6. Google earth look bad on iPad when zoomed to 2x. Everything is chunky and there is no pleasure using it as other apps that were rewritten for iPad. Let’s hope google really looks into updating this app for iPad

  7. Noumenon says:

    I concur that Google Earth looks craptacular on the iPad as it now stands.

  8. it’s a shame that the google earth app is not as good as the pc based version, the rivals windows live maps and also multimaps will be giving googleearth a run for their money… I also read that they are trying to push the 3d street view on to the iPad aswell? More issues for the google team to work on, the idea of making the ipad a virtual tour tablet sounds awesome.

  9. I have to agree, why does the image look so poor on the iPad?

  10. I think the iphone version is OK on the iphone. I certainly hope there will be an ipad version of it.

  11. I love my iPad. I cant put it down!
    I would love to have native google earth on my iPad!!!!!
    Posted from my iPad

  12. From the image the above it looks like the visual display of Google earth looks poor on the iPad and not good enough, they will have to improve this greatly.

  13. Google Earth has now been updated for iPad and is fantastic. It’s currently lacking a placemark function (and other cool things that are available in the PC version), although google maps myplaces can be imported. Will no doubt be updated sometime soon.

  14. installed today – dont like it.

  15. Well, it looks fantastic. Tried it on our iPad today though it generally lacks some features.
    Hopefully, they’ll update soon!

  16. Just got Google Earth on my iPad it is brilliant.
    I was a little slow coming over to Apple but these guys push the boundries which has got to be good.

  17. I think the Google Earth app needs a little work but I’m sure it will be brilliant.

  18. If that is the case, then nobody will bring a printed map anymore, instead, have an iPad and use google earth. Amazing!

  19. I am using my iPad for just about everything now.
    The Google Earth app is great and I am blogging from it on the move.

  20. I’m definitely considering buying an iPad but they’ll have to convince me with more than a google earth app!
    Thank you for this piece of write up!

  21. Finally, a google Earth on the iPad! I’ll go get one next week

  22. Beautiful, and I like the layers. However, it would be nice if there were some functionality such as having access to your custom places and being able to drop pins or make comments. Perhaps there is, but it is not obvious and the help sends you to a 401 page.

  23. Does anybody now maybe know how i can import my mac’s google earth places on the google maps for ipad? ive been looking but not finding 🙁

  24. Ricardo Johnson says:

    I have Google Earth Pro at work and recently purchased an I-Pad with GE App. Can kmz/kml files be emailed as attachments to the I-Pad then opened on the I-Pad? I tried with no results.

  25. I am trying to use google maps overlay (google maps.kmz) on the ipad to have a map-like tool where I can import custom kml files too. Whilst I was able to upload my kml files via google maps account and display them, it did not work for the google maps.kmz (does not show anything at all). Can someone explain this to me or point out, where I can get help with this question?
    Google Earth really needs improving to be used for personal display of data – it’s just too difficult to upload your own kml files, and as happened to me, sometimes they do not display correctly… bummer!

  26. i’ve just downloaded google earth for iPad and what i can say is just: amazing! keep up good work Google guys, we love your apps for iPad and iPhone…

  27. @criss, I have got the same issue…stil no sollution fot it. Not that I can find @ the moment.

  28. Why is Google Earth so indistinct on my IPad?

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.