By Ken Burkhalter on Sun, 11/16/2008
Due to what I imagined must be the enormous computing power required, I didn't think I'd see the day very soon when one of my favorite Applications, Google Earth, would see the light of day on the iPhone.
How wrong I was. The wizards at Google have done it again and the results are nothing less than spectacular!
Not only is the graphic quality stunning, but the speed of everything is also surprisingly fast. Indeed, even over 3G, it feels faster than my PC based Google Earth!
The User Interface is both simple and quite elegant (would Google do it any other way?).
The four icons in each corner function as follows (from the upper left corner around in a clock-wise direction):
MAGNIFYING GLASS: provides a search function, which not only searches the web as you might expect but also your Contact List. So if you enter "Tol" as you type you will immediately get search hits on items in your Contacts List such as "Tollhouse Restaurant" and any friend in your list that lives in Toledo, Ohio. If you Tap the "Search" button at the bottom of the screen Google will search for the best match to "Tol" it can find near you and position the map at that location.
Type in a Contact name and Earth positions right over their address!
COMPASS: Indicates the map orientation (red part of the arrow points to the North). But NOTE that by placing two fingers on the map and twisting your hand clockwise or counter clockwise,
you can rotate the map's orientation. The Compass tracks the map's North orientation as your twist your hand. To quickly return to a North orientation, Tap on the compass icon and the map will automatically re-orient itself North.
i: Tapping on the "i" icon opens an Options page where you can configure the labels and markers you want to show on the map. You can also enable/disable "Autotilt" which uses the iPhone’s accelerometers to change the map view from looking straight down on the surface (when your iPhone is horizontal) to a horizon view as you lift the phone up (just as your view of the scene would change as you move your head from looking straight down to looking out to the distance).
TARGET SYMBOL: Tapping on the target sighting icon in the lower left corner triggers the "zoom into my Location" action. This causes the screen to zoom in and center at your current location. Like the other Location enabled Apps, the initial fix will be by cell tower, followed by a more accurate position determined from a GPS fix.
To move around on the map, you can drag a single finger to change position; double tap a single finger to zoom In; double tap two fingers simultaneously to zoom out; and tap and rotate two fingers to rotate the map orientation direction.
To return to a North up orientation, double tap the Compass icon.
This comes as close to a "killer App" as any I have, so far.