5.2 Mobile technology and Google Maps

Google Earth has yet to transfer effectively to the world of the tablet and mobile, a challenge observed by the users of this project (see section 4.3). While it is possible to open Seeing Beneath Stonehenge on such a device, much functionality is lost. Importantly the more interpretative and engaging aspects of it such as the 3D models and landscape tours do not run. With the rise of mobile technologies there is an argument to be made that effort might be better directed on the development of apps and other software that make use of this fast growing market (Shaw and Challis 2013). Licence costs are now generally more affordable and indeed free for Google-based apps. The challenge here is that technology has not yet advanced to a point where a 'user-generated' product of the desired quality is easy to achieve. Therefore, specialist knowledge and possible associated finance might be required. In contrast Google Earth remains free and easy to use.

Alongside the rise in mobile technologies, Google Maps has also gained in popularity. The software has a potential advantage over Google Earth as it allows users the convenience of accessing multiple data without having to exit an individual web browser. There is 3D functionality with Google Maps. Models from the Trimble Warehouse are included, and Google are adding their own auto-generated 3D buildings using stereo-photogrammetry from aerial imagery. Importantly though, it is still missing the ability to embed bespoke tours and the multiple layers of satellite imagery that are available in Google Earth. Issues surrounding data ownership and Google Maps are also an important consideration and are discussed next.