Google Maps is introducing a new mode that should give users a better idea of what their upcoming travel route will have in store for them. While they are calling the feature the "helicopter view," it also promises a 3D view of you upcoming road trip.
Over at Google's LatLong blog, the helicopter view/3D route is essentially the aerial view of the route users selected when querying Google Maps for directions. It's a fantastic option for travelers who prefer the scenic route over highway driving. With the 3D view, users will know just how scenic their selected path of travel really is. As you can see in the lead image, the area being detailed is Highway 1 in California, and the view of the route promises a visually rich travel experience. In fact, all this service is lacking is the ability to see these routes in real-time. Such a feature would allow users to do a little traffic scouting, allowing them to pick the path of least resistance.
As it stands, the aerial view of the trip is still a nice feature, especially for those who want to see the country from a non-highway point of view. Over at the blog post, LatLong details how to use the new feature:
To preview your own route, it is as simple as clicking on a button. Start by entering your starting point, destination, and mode of transport like any directions; in this case, driving directions from ‘Carmel CA to Big Sur CA.’ Then, just click on the “3D” play button. The map will switch to Earth view and automatically start flying you along your recommended route. You can pause the flight at any time by clicking anywhere in the 3D view or on the pause button in the lower left. While the flight is paused, you can explore the surrounding area in 3D by clicking and dragging the map.
Unfortunately, the service doesn't appear to active in every area. The post provides a link for driving directions to Big Sur in order to duplicate the post's example. However, when the link is clicked, the "3D" button is not available, at least for this user. A screenshot of the results that were returned for me:
Granted, Google updates are not always an "all for one" rollout basis, but it's disappointing not being able to see the new feature in action. Thoughts on such a feature? Will it enhance Google's already effective map service or detract? Let us know what you think.