Color me impressed: Google has released a custom Google Earth application for the iPhone / iPod Touch, and it’s stunning.
The Google Earth geographical software has been altered to make maximum use of the iPhone’s screen and functionality. You’re able to tilt the device to adjust your view when browsing mountainous terrain, use the ‘My Location’ feature to jump right to where you are in the blink of an eye, and use Google’s local search engine to look for information on cities, places and businesses. Google has also added additional layers to the application, namely Panoramio and Wikipedia, for geo-located high-quality photos and informative articles respectively.
This marks the main differentiator between the official Google Earth app and the one Earthscape released last May. More recently, the Earthscape application dropped its price from $10 to free, but will most likely be trumped by the official app now.
Update: Earthscape CEO Tom Churchill let us know Wikipedia articles have in fact been included in their app since the beginning, and that it will remain free from now on. He also cites other differences between the two apps, like real-time geotagged photoblogging and social features. We suggest you try both of them and decide which one tickles your fancy. After all, they’re both available free of charge.
As CNET points out, Google Earth for iPhone has a small Webkit-based browser to show the specific information users click on, and includes a link to the Safari browser Apple builds into the iPhone. When you click the address of a business using the local search engine, the iPhone will intercept the command and show it on the Google Maps application, enabling you to get directions instantly.
The app is free and available today in all languages the iPhone currently supports (18) and will gradually be released for 22 countries in total. Check the iTunes App Store to see if you’re among the lucky ones.
Product Manager Google Earth Peter Birch, who is the one demonstrating the app in the video below, has also announced that a similar application running on Android is high on the priority list for the future, but that there’s nothing to announce at this point. More features, like integration of 3D buildings and advanced mapping functionalities, are in the pipeline. It’s likely Google is also looking at ways to monetize the mobile traffic.