For most uses, Google Maps is a flat, 2D app, and if your device can handle more graphics and a bit more data, you can fire up the Google Earth 3D data set and get 3D buildings. At Google I/O Google has announced a new level that turns the graphics slider way, way up on Google Maps: Immersive View . When exploring an area in Google Roadmaps, the company says Immersive View will make it “feel like you’re right there before you ever set foot inside. ”
The video for this feature is wild. It basically turns Google Maps into a 3D version of SimCity with AAA video game graphics. There are simulated cars that drive through the roads, and birds fly through the sky. Clouds pass overhead and cast shadows upon the world. The weather is simulated, and water has realistic reflections that change with the camera. London even has an animated Ferris wheel that spins around.
Search engines can’t possibly be tracking things like the individual positions of birds (yet! ), but a lot of this is real data. The cars represent the current traffic levels on a given street. The weather represents the particular actual weather, even for historical data. The sun moves in real time with the time of day.