Google Maps and Google Earth add 3D London landmarks for royal wedding

Google has added a wealth of 3D imagery to Google Maps of London -- and it's even done the trees!

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Google has added a wealth of 3D imagery to Google Maps of London -- and just in time for the royal wedding, as if the impending nob nuptials have got anything to do with anything.

The extra dimension has been added to central London landmarks and locations including Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, and the West End's theatreland. Even London's trees are now rendered in 3D.

The extra detail extends to the big smoke's famous parks. Google Earth now renders five different types of tree, with 12,000 trees 'virtually planted' in St James' Park, Green Park and Hyde Park.

You can see Earth View by visiting Google Maps in your browser, although you'll probably need to download the Google Earth plugin. To see London's landmarks and parkytrees in Google Earth, tick the 3D buildings box in Layers on the left. You can use the navigation controls in the top-right corner to zoom in and out, twiddle around and tilt the view.

We spent some time zooming around CNET Towers near the South Bank, shooting up the road to where the Shard dominates the skyline over London Bridge. It's not finished, but is already the tallest building in Britain, and you can see its progress -- complete with cranes -- in Google Maps. When completed, the Shard will stand 310m (1,017ft) tall and have 72 floors, making it the tallest building in Europe.

Google is celebrating the 3Dification of London by linking it to the royal wedding, like everyone in Britain is sitting around twiddling our thumbs until two posh people we've never met get hitched. Still, we're prepared to raise a glass for Wills and Wossername for scoring us two four-day weekends in a row at the end of April. Crave has big plans for the princely days off: we're going to defrag our hard drives and sort out the ID tags on our MP3 collection. Don't tell us we don't know how to party like a prince.

Press play on Google's princely promo video to see the route of the royal procession in glorious 3D map-o-vision.

3D maps are also coming to phones and tablets in Google Maps 5.0 for Android. Tablets using Android 3.0 Honeycomb, and phones with the Maps 5.0 on, can see 3D buildings as well as using vector images. Vector images resize more smoothly than tiles, and can also be cached on your phone so you can keep following the map even if you lose your Internet connection.

What's your favourite 3D London landmark? And how will you be celebrating the royal wedding? Map out your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.