No vacation plans? Check out 3D photos of historical sites on Android tablets

Google announces that the Android-based tablets can use Google Earth to view buildings in 3D for the first time

Android-based tablets can now show 3-dimensional pictures of buildings via Google Earth, Google announced Thursday.

"With the recent release of tablets based on Android 3.0, we wanted to take full advantage of the larges creens and powerful processors," said Peter Birch, Google Earth Product Manager, in a blog post.

"We've added support for fully textured 3D buildings, so your tour through the streets of Manhattan will look more realistic than ever [on tablets]," Birch said.

Google also added a new action bar on top of Google Earth for Android, giving new options such as the ability to "fly to your location."

Google Earth, which depicts 197 million square miles of Earth, was launched in 2005. An Android version was launched last year without the ability to show buildings in 3D.

"This is the first time that 3D buildings have been available on any mobile device," said a Google spokeswoman, noting that they so far have only been viewable on desktops.

"Moving from a mobile phone to a tablet is like going from a regular movie theatre to IMAX," Birch said, drawing attention to 3D photos of the Colosseum in Rome.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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