Google has introduced an experimental feature for Google maps called MapsGL. Used for finding directions till now, Google maps transitions into a 3D mirror of the real world.

MapsGL is built on top of a new technology called WebGL that brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics directly to the browser - all this without having to install anything.

The new technology will let you view 3D buildings, offers smooth transitions between Zoom levels and seamless 45” aerial view rotations. Another attractive feature that comes in is the smooth automatic transition from map view to the street view when the zoom is high enough.


Currently MapsGL will work on Chrome14+ and Firefox 8+. The latest version of chrome is 14 already so if auto update for chrome is turned on, you should be ready to go. Firefox 8 is the beta version of Firefox which Mozilla just released and can be downloaded from here.

How to try out

MapsGL is still experimental and has been kept optional. To try out, use either Chrome or Firefox browser and visit Google MapsGL. Once fully loaded, click on “want to try something new?” on left -side of the screen. A check will be done if your browser and hardware can support MapsGL and if no issues found, the magic will be turned on.

If you want to opt out, just click on the "Classic" button.

Tip for Chrome users

If you are using chrome and after checking, it says "your computer does not meet the system performance requirements for MapsGL", here is a simple workaround that might get it straight.

  1. Enter the following URL in your Chrome: chrome://flags
  2. Enable "Override software rendering list"
  3. Click the "Relaunch now" button on the bottom of the page.

If you again get the same message and notice that the check doesn't much time and chrome blasts the message very quickly, just clear all your browsing data (tools->clear browsing data). Chrome seems to store the first check result and uses it to shoot a warning for subsequent checks without actually checking for compatibility.

before trying out, check out this new interactive film, created in WebGL called "3 Dreams of Black"