A few months back, Google Earth Blog revealed a slick new iPhone application coming called Earthscape. The application is a Google Earth-like program that runs on your iPhone. It costs $9.99 in the iTunes app store (get it here).
One disappointment is that it’s not yet using the accelerometer to control movement — it’s all done with finger swipes. That being said, the interace is fairly intuitive and it works well. The data for the US is quite sharp, although all of the non-US data it limited to 15 meter resolution, which is quite blurry.
One odd thing I found was the transition between 2D and 3D. While browsing around, it works very much like Google Maps, with a top-down perspective. If you want to angle your view, you have to click an icon, and you’re suddenly swooped sideways. This also changes the interface, so you need to use different kinds of finger swipes to navigate in 3D (two fingers to pan instead of just one, one finger will tilt and rotate, etc). I found that I had a pretty tough time moving around in 3D, but that will likely improve as I get used to it.
The application comes with three layers built in: Borders, City Names and Wikipedia Articles. All three do exactly what they say, and they’re done well. I like the way the city names do a quick zoom-up when it’s time for them to display. The two big items missing are roads and a search box. Without roads, I had a tough time finding various landmarks (my house, etc). I still found them, but the yellow labeled roads make life much easier. A search box would be very useful, too. I’d expect we’ll see both of those in a future version.
All in all, it’s a very impressive little app. If you want a great toy to show off your iPhone, this is it. I think the $9.99 price tag is a bit steep for what it does, but the value is sure to increase as they add more features.
Here is a brief video that Earthscape produced to show off the application:
Here are a few photos I took while browsing around: