While everyone was getting all excited about Google's 3D announcement today, Google revealed an even more useful, if less sexy, feature: an offline mode. Today's Next Dimension event, as the name indicates, was supposed to introduce Google's 3D technology ahead of Apple's event next week, where the Google-rival will put out its own three dimensional enabled maps apps. Google met expectations, demoing life-like 3D maps that will be available on both Android and iOS enabled phones in the coming weeks. Take that Apple. But, before talking extra dimensions, Google slipped in something much more practical: maps you can use without a network connecton.
As far as utility goes, 3D maps have potential. We had some ideas last week, with the most exciting possibility -- beyond looking cool -- being augmented reality. Wouldn't it be cool if you could touch a building on a 3D map and it would let you know all about that location, or maybe even who of your friends has "checked in" at said place? We think so. But, other than that, the biggest draw is really that the maps look more life-like than the flat options we have today. From what we can see via the Google demo, Apple's maps will have a more detailed look than Google's. From this picture via CNET's Rafe Needlemen, it's tough to tell how clear Google's renderings will be (it looks like he took a photo of their demo screen), but they are detailed. He called them "Not perfect, but looks pretty magical."