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Google Ups Its Map Game

By Matt Cantor, Newser Staff

With Apple (AAPL) reportedly diving into digital mapping, Google (GOOG) is stepping up its own efforts in the field. The company has announced several unique new features for its Maps service, including a Street View backpack, 3D city models, and an offline mode.

With 15 lenses, the Street View Trekker pack takes 46MP pictures in hard-to-reach places, eliminating the need for a car or bike, Wired reports. Now, Google staffers are able to map places like ski resorts, by simply sending an employee speeding down the slopes with the backpack on.

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Google Earth is adding 3D modeling technology, allowing users to see, for instance, all sides of every building in San Francisco, down to the lights on the Giants' stadium. "We're trying to create that illusion that you're flying over the city," says an engineer.

Meanwhile, users will be able to save regular maps so that they can review them offline--during those frustrating moments without access to a signal.

Interestingly, the Android feature, arriving within weeks, isn't due to appear on Apple's iOS. It's all part of "a race between Google and Apple to develop the next killer features on their mobile platforms," a developer tells the Wall Street Journal.

--Written by Matt Cantor of Newser

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