Google Maps’ and Google Earth’s looks diverge

Until recently, the Google Earth dataset was the base dataset, and every update would be followed a few weeks later by the Google Maps version, as the maps version of the imagery is just a series of snapshots of the base imagery at different resolutions, one for each zoom level.

Not so any more. As of today, zoomed out Maps imagery enjoys the sheen of consistent post-processing. In places like the UK and Germany, where everything is in high resolution anyway, this is a welcome improvement. Quite possibly, the change was precipitated by the oohs and ahs that greeted Microsoft Live Local’s last UK dataset upgrade.

Some commenters make a good point, however. in areas where high-resolution imagery is not omnipresent, the color-shifted strips provided tell-tale signs of interesting high-resolution imagery to explore. Google Earth still has this advantage. To me, the colored strips in the Australian Outback are a feature, not a bug — an undocumented nudge towards the good stuff in Google Earth.

Also today in Maps: Double click to zoom for everyone, and continuous zoom for Windows users. In sum, all three improvements constitute a successful catch-up maneuver by Google, feature-wise, vis-à-vis Live Local. Meanwhile, Google Maps and Earth still far, far outshine the competition when it comes to content, and in this game, content very much is king. (I’m still in awe of the breadth of the last Google Earth dataset update from over a month ago.) (Via Zorgloob)

7 thoughts on “Google Maps’ and Google Earth’s looks diverge”

  1. Maybe I’m just behind here, but I thought that Google didn’t zoom in / out with the Mouse wheel. It appears to do so today & it also shows you where it’s zooming into with a red target displayed over the zoom in location. Again they are playing catch up with MS VE, but I like it.

  2. Yes, the mousewheel works on the Mac, and it brings you up or down a level, but without the zooming animation that you see on the PC. To be precise, on the PC you don’t get true continuous zooming — you can’t stop between zoom levels.

  3. “In places like the UK and Germany, where everything is in high resolution anyway”

    not everywhere in the UK is in hi-resolution – for example, much of Hampshire in the south of England.

  4. It’s not about post-processing. Google shows low-resolution images from LandSat7 (check with NASA World Wind) with no high-resolution squares. When you zoom in below 20% then high-resolution imagenary is introduced.

    It’s only a trick.

  5. I think we both agree — Landsat 7 images are processed consistently, wwithout seams, whereas the zommed-in imagery is not.

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