Google July 9 made its 45Â° aerial imagery view, introduced to Google users in February in Google Maps Labs, available in select cities in the United States and worldwide to all users of Google Maps.
As the name implies, 45Â° imagery shows a location from a 45Â° angle rather than from the top.
Users can use this view to see the sides of buildings and other locations, or rotate around a point of interest using the compass in Google Maps to see different angles. This is useful to gauge buildings and other locations before users visit them.
Google Imagery Teams' Randy Wilson explained:
"To see the new imagery, simply zoom into an area while in Satellite mode. Where we have 45Â° imagery available, the imagery will switch from an overhead to 45Â° angle as you zoom all the way in. You can then pan smoothly across the map to get a richer view of the area."
Wilson offers these views as his favorites:
Finally, a satellite view of where Google's new aerial views may be accessed:
Google won't use the phrase "bird's eye," but this is what Microsoft had been offering through Microsoft Live Search and then Bing Maps as the Bird's Eye View.
What's interesting to me here is Google is increasingly borrowing ideas from Bing. As near as I can tell, this started last fall.
More recently, look at the new background photo images on the Google.com homepage.
In May, Google cluttered up its left-hand rail with search refinements, which reminded users a lot of Bing.
Bing offered nice backgrounds out of the gate in June 2009 but Google stuck to its simple homepage guns until June 2010 when it launched its customizable homepage option. Observers again noted how Google was aping Bing.
Most recently, Google bid to buy ITA Software which makes the flight route and price comparison software Microsoft uses for Bing Travel.
Clearly, Google and Bing have similar ideas of where search is headed. Is this merely a coincidence, or an example of copy catting?