Google Maps goes to a new dimension with more pics and offline directions

Google has announced the newest hotness for Google Maps: offline mapping for Android and an insane wearable Street View camera (meaning more Street View images than before).

For Google Earth, the company is outfitting airplanes with Street View-like camera gear and flying them like high-tech crop dusters all over the earth’s surface to get photographic 3D data to display for users.

The bottom line is Google wants to make its mapping software more comprehensive, more accurate, and more usable.

The good word was delivered by Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps, at a press event in San Francisco this morning. The event has been a relatively hot ticket since we got our invite, mostly because of Apple’s decision to boot Google Maps off iOS in favor of its own 3D mapping software.

Currently, Google Maps covers 75 percent of the world’s service and includes images of more than 5 million miles around the globe, not to mention the 26 million miles of roads and highways for which Google can pull up driving directions.

Soon, you’ll also be able to use a new feature called “make available offline” to (duh) make the mapped area available when you’re offline, outside your 3G network, etc.

And while we’ve been accustomed to Street View imagery on streets (and even indoors), we’ll also be able to see the same quality of images for areas one can’t access via car. Google is crunching all the camera gear into a wearable backpack for Google-bankrolled explorers to wear while skiing, hiking, or otherwise slogging over the less navigable surfaces of the planet.

Here’s what the gear looks like:

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