Hands-on with 3D buildings in Google Earth at Google I/O 2012

Google Earth 7.0 has been released, introducing 3D maps for a selection of major cities around the world. Based upon 3D telemetry and textures taken from aerial photography, Earth 7.0 conjures a virtual city right onto your smartphone or tablet screen. What this means is you can now fire up Google Earth and zoom around any of the supported cities, which include San Francisco, Boston, Charlotte and Rome. There's also a dedicated tour mode which will give you a virtual fly-by view of major landmarks, including the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.

As you might expect, the new 3D mapping capabilities require a fair amount of graphical power and bandwidth to use, though we demo'd the new Google Earth on the 18-month-old Motorola Xoom, and the app remained fairly smooth and speedy.

Check out our hands-on video above. Google Earth 7.0 is available to download now from the Google Play Store. For 3D building support, you'll need to be running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or later.

Download: Google Earth (opens in new tab)

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

  • Quite remarkable and is that a OG xoom...?
  • Looks pretty cool. Won't actually have any use for it now, but that will change with more cities. And yes it looks like the og. The first nexus tablet in my opinion.
  • Live in Houston here, just updated it and played with it and it is fun to play with.
  • Looks laggy. Want to see this on a Nexus 7 with Project Butter smeared all over it.
  • Not sure why it says ICS is a requirement for the new 3D building rendering since I get it on my Epic 4G Touch with GB and my Galaxy Tab 10.1 with HC.
  • Turns my TF300 into a laggy crashy mess. =/
  • Similarly on my i9300, it ranges from decent to insanely choppy.
  • I know we're all about Android here, but if you just want to check out the 3D buildings, you can see them in Google Earth for PC as well.
  • Don't really care about this. Add them to maps and nav then I'll be impressed.