updated 01:50 pm EDT, Thu May 5, 2011
Google Earth upgraded for Android 3.0
Google started bringing some of its own non-stock apps up to speed for Android 3.0 tablets on Thursday with a new version of Google Earth (free, Market). The new version both makes full use of the bigger canvas and brings textured 3D buildings as well as pop-overs for on-map content. The tablet UI provides quicker ways to search as well as get to specific layers or the tablet's current location.
Any Android device using 2.1 or later can get the updated version, though only those with a Motorola Xoom or other Android 3.0 tablet can get the new interface. Existing users only have to update the app from Android Market.
The update is a significant help to the new tablet platform since just a few dozen native apps exist, even spread across third-party developers. Many of Google's apps are already loaded on the tablet but are seldom optimized for it when they have to downloaded separately.
Along with the tablet update, Google quietly slipped out its promised Business Photos, a currently web-only view that shows photos from some businesses in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the US. The approach requires a Google photographer but can give shops a way of previewing their content for visitors wanting to check the store in advance.