Apple’s keynotes are very well planned in advance. Their slides are brief, with minimal text, while their verbal explanations have the most substance. They’re also very precise. Everything the Apple executive team says is calculated, knowing their customers, developers, employees, and lest we not forget, their competitors, are watching. After digesting some great (albeit, mixed) analysis of the iPhone 5 these last two days, I wanted to go back for a refresher to catch some of that, knowing now what I didn’t know then. I originally watched the keynote on Wednesday, shortly after it was made available here.
I’ve picked up on a few things so far, but this one I thought was especially worth sharing, since its explanation gets into the technical details of how Apple created Flyover, one of Maps’ highlight features.
You’ll notice in the image above (click to enlarge) that the time shown on one face of Big Ben (12:15) is 3 hours and 18 minutes earlier than the time on the adjacent face. Here’s why.
Think of Flyover as Google’s Street View, but for the sky. In order to capture this imagery, Apple had to fly patterns over these cities with specially equipped planes flying at a specific altitude, carrying cameras locked at a certain angle to the ground below. With the tremendous amount of ground area they had to cover, it obviously couldn’t all be done in a few passes from above. The time difference shown in the image represents the time each camera flew by Big Ben to capture that specific part of the imagery. Once back in Cupertino, all the images had to be specially combined to create the 45-degree viewing perspective you see when you use Flyover. If you’ve ever taken a panoramic photo, this process is like stitching multiple images together in that fashion, but in full 3D and with an exponentially larger number of images.
People have had great fun finding these sorts of anomalies in Google Maps Street View since, well, the beginning. Now that fun is just starting over with Apple’s Maps. Flyover is only available in certain areas so far, but Apple is continuously adding imagery as fast as they can capture and process it.
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