Google Maps Now Has 45° Views For Some Cities


Share this Post

Google Maps is an amazing tool for inspecting the lay-out of cities and using the satellite view gives you a realistic visualization of what the city actually looks like. However, the 90° view of building-tops causes everything in the map to be indistinguishable and, were it not for the labels, it’s doubtful you’d ever see a building you recognize.

Google’s remedied that problem (to an extent) with the addition of 45° views to 24 cities (14 in the United States, 7 throughout the rest of the world) that give you a much more recognizable view of the cityscapes. With this new 45° imagery, Maps users can now see the architecture of buildings with much more stunning detail. For instance, let’s compare the 45° and 90° views of Ulm Minster, a Gothic cathedral in Ulm, Germany. Here it is seen at 90°:

And here it is in greater splendor (at the same magnification) at 45°:

The difference in quality is jarring. Like, how did any of us make any functional use of Google Maps in that 90° rendering? The beauty and depth of that cathedral is breath-taking in the 45° angle, whereas that 90° angle looks like the remains of some boot-squashed techno-beetle.

You can still toggle between 45° and 90° via the menu in the upper-right corner (but after demonstrating the dramatic difference above, why would you want to?). Google seems to know that you will want to primarily use the 45° view because if a city is included in the update, the satellite view will automatically switch to the 45° view once you’ve zoomed in far enough. Also, before you get ahead of yourself, you won’t be able to orbit around objects – you only get one 45° view of cities.

Satellite view on Maps, have to zoom in so far before it automatically toggles to 90 degree to 45 degree view. You can adjust this in the options menu that hangs in the upper-right corner of the map.

For instance, this is you flying over Baiona, Spain:

View Larger Map

This is you flying over Ulm, Germany:

View Larger Map

Here’s Memphis, TN – try to find Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel:

View Larger Map

If this is the direction that Google Maps is going with their their near-earth satellite views, then I can’t until they’re able to expand the imagery to cover the rest of the planet.