Google Maps 3D lets you fly anywhere from your sofa

Google Maps has long been my favorite way to get driving directions, but now they've added a cool new 3D preview feature that lets you take a virtual flight along the route before you hit the road.

To make it work, you simply enter your start and end points as usual, choose whether you're walking, biking or driving, and click the "3D" button at the start of the written directions list. The program will zoom into your start point, then take you along the route using an angled view from above as if you were in a helicopter. What's really cool, is that unlike a regular overhead map or satellite image, you can really see the terrain and what types of difficulties you might encounter when you actually travel along the route. That's cool if your driving, but it's especially useful if you're going to be biking or walking and want to know where the hills are.

Currently the 3D feature is available only on the full browser version of Google Maps, and you need to have Google Earth already loaded on your computer. A smartphone version sounds like a no-brainer, but would most likely tax the processing power and download speeds of some phones.

Google LatLong Blog, via SlashGear

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