Developer: Newscape Technology SAS
Price: $3.99 Download on the App Store
It wasn't that long ago that Google Earth enthralled users with the ability to anonymously explore the world. Across the street and across the planet, the zoom and deliver technology changed the way we viewed the landscape — and our expectations of what a map could deliver.
Paris 3D is part of this new generation of maps. Using the same aerial image technology — all new photos from 2009 — the travel app allows users to take a thorough exploration of Paris, France. Of course, if Paris 3D were just another map app, there wouldn't be much to write home about.
The app combines the true-life images with the functions of a guide book. Armchair travelers will enjoy reading about the 2000 points of interest, all categorized by interest and location. Tourists actually visiting the City of Lights have even more options. You can plan a walkable route for getting around Paris and, if you veer off the beaten path, use the geo-location features to find your way back to the hotel.
In practical application, Paris 3D works better than expected. The app is a beast! It's a huge download that should only be attempted when connected to your computer. This is actually a good thing because it means that all the information Paris 3D needs is stored on your device not on the Internet. You'll be able to plan your itinerary on the flight overseas, and, even better, you won't be tied in to a costly data plan while roaming about the city.
For an app with so much information, the map is surprisingly responsive. Screen redraw time is minimal — about the same or less as you would get using Google maps — and navigating from map to description and back again is a breeze.
Like any map-based app, you use your fingers to scroll and drag your way around. But, there's one thing you really need to know if you want to get the most out of Paris 3D. The map starts out with a typical top-down view, if you want to get the full 3D view you'll need to rotate your viewing perspective. Hold one finger down on the screen, this becomes your anchor point. Now, use the other to rotate the plane of view or to take a 360-degree gander around a building.
It took me a while to figure this out. But, it's quite impressive once you get the hang of it.
As you browse the Paris streets, double tap any building for more information. The app will provide a list of attractions and points of interest based on your current location.
Paris 3D is the first of a series of city-exploration guidebooks from Mobile 3D City. As my grandpa might say, it's amazing what they can do with technology these days. Of course, this map app is more than just an awesome showpiece, it's a practical guidebook for discovering Paris on foot, in a car, or from your living room. I can't wait to see what cities they do next!