Google has added a 3D aerial route preview option to its Google Maps product.With the new feature, Google Maps users can fly alongside routes to get a birds-eye view of directions while planning road trips, biking excursions, hiking trips or regular city commutes.The 3D preview feature colloquially referred to as “helicopter view” is now a part of the Google directions experience. Users simply enter start, mid and endpoint destinations to get directions as usual, and a new 3D play button will appear next to the returned directions.
“The map will switch to Earth view and automatically start flying you along your recommended route,” Google Maps engineer Paul Yang explains in a blog post. “To help you keep track of which step you are on, the current leg of the trip is highlighted in the left panel. You can also jump to a different part of the trip by clicking on a different step.”
Users can also pause the 3D preview by poking about off-route areas, all the while remaining in the 3D Earth view. They also can return to the standard two-dimensional view by clicking on the 2D button in the left-hand directions panel. 3D route previews, on first glance, appear to mash up the Google Earth and Google Maps experiences quite nicely. Take a trip of your own and let us know your thoughts in the comments.