Ovi Maps moving to WebGL

Earlier this year we showed you the new Ovi Maps 3D, a rather nice 3D globe. It certainly wasn’t close to Google Earth in terms of features or depth, but it had some pretty cool 3D features in a few cities.
Not much has changed with it, aside from one big thing — they now have a WebGL version. Similar the Google Maps WebGL version that came out last week, you can now view the full Ovi Maps 3D experience in your browser without having to load a plugin. It only works in Chrome right now, but other browsers are being tested.


While it’s certainly not close to being as comprehensive as Google Earth, it has us even more excited for the future of WebGL. Google Maps brought us a few 3D buildings in its WebGL version last week (including nice touches like shadows), and now Ovi Maps 3D is showing us a WebGL map that feels a lot more like Google Earth.
Having over a billion downloads of Google Earth means that the Google Earth plug-in is already installed on hundreds of millions of computers. However, being able to access it from the browser without having to use a plug-in at all would be awesome.
Google hasn’t said anything about porting Google Earth to WebGL, but I’m sure it’s something they’re at least considering. Part of that would likely include the ability to sync “My Places” to the cloud, something I’ve desired for a while. Imagine accessing Google Earth from any web browser and having your full list of Places available at your fingertips. The prospects are quite intriguing, so I’m excited to see what the future might hold!
You can read more about it on their blog, or go try it for yourself at maps.nokia.com/webgl.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. I live in Stockholm, Sweden, (not that far from Finland) and there are many more Ovi Maps Buildings than in GE. (Even though I was myself ferously building a couple of hundred of them in Building Maker two heavy winters ago).
    What about other cities around the world i really dont know yet. Will try to locate Varanasi, India and check their really chaotic cityscape!
    The Ui is not too good, but i suppose that is because it is stiil a Beta version, Kudoos to Nokia!

  2. Paul van Dinther says:

    Fantastic, best webgl application I have seen yet. I thought maybe webgl would not be up to the task but it clearly is.
    The lack of specific geo data such as streets, street names etc is trivial to add I think. Auto-generation is the way to go for a real 3D city with accurate elevation details.
    Google really need to up their game if they want to hang on to the crown.

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