The online mapping space is quickly heating up. What used to be a relatively straightforward competition between Google and Microsoft (with OpenStreetMap and a few other smaller players standing on the sidelines) will likely become a far more complex scenario now that Apple is likely to reveal its own solution at its WWDC later this month. Google, it seems, is trying to steal some thunder from Apple and is holding an invite-only press event in San Francisco where the company promises to unveil “the next dimension of Google Maps.”
The invitation also notes that Google will offer attendees “a behind-the-scenes look at Google Maps and share our vision. We’ll also demo some of the newest technology and provide a sneak peek at upcoming features that will help people get where they want to go – both physically and virtually.”
Given that Apple is widely rumored to drop Google Maps in iOS6 in favor of its own solution with a focus on 3D maps, it’s hard not to look at Google talking about “the next dimension of Google Maps” without thinking about more 3D features.
Google Maps, of course, already lets you switch to Google Earth in the browser. This feature only works once you have installed a plugin, though. Maybe this update will bring this functionality directly to the browser through WebGL. Maybe Google is adding more 3D buildings and trees, or maybe it is also updating Street View with a more virtual world-like look.
Whatever it is, we’ll be attending the event next week and will keep you posted.