Thursday, August 21, 2008

Earthscape on iPhone

Thanks to Jesse at Very Spatial for the tip that my friends Tom Churchill and gang at Earthscape have released their virtual globe product for the iPhone. They have developed a lot of very cool virtual globe technology and have been looking at various directions they could take it in (competing head on with Google Earth and Virtual Earth being a tough proposition!), and I think that the iPhone direction is a really promising one for them.

This first version is missing some obvious features such as search, but the slick navigation means that you miss that less than you might think. I imagine that and other features will probably come along soon though, and I know they had various other cool ideas so I look forward to seeing more good things in future releases. One thing that is missing from earlier prototypes that I saw is changing the view based on tilting the iPhone. I think this is probably a good decision - this approach had novelty value but was hard to control well, and I think that the navigation controls they have now are very intuitive.

Overall it definitely has a high "cool factor" for showing off the graphics and touch screen capabilities of the iPhone, which I think is a big factor in driving application sales at this early stage of the iPhone application platform. Congrats to the team at Earthscape on getting the product out!

1 comment:

Unknown said...


Thanks for your considered comments. As you correctly guessed, while the accelerometer based camera panning was a cool party trick, in practice it proved difficult to incorporate into a real product. We will probably revive it as some point, if only for the novelty factor -- but for our initial release, we really wanted to concentrate on making an easy to use, intuitive application that could act as a solid base for the many improvements to come.

And what's to come, we hope, will be of much greater value -- the obvious shortcomings (such as no search) will be addressed, of course -- but it's the entirely new kinds of uses that virtual globes can be put to in a mobile environment that are truly exciting.

Best Wishes (and see you at GIS in the Rockies),

--Tom Churchill
CEO, Earthscape