BMW has announced an update to its iDrive system that integrates a 3D city mode to model buildings. When a turn is approaching, the view automatically switches to show a birds-eye view, than a view from directly overhead that shows which lane is best and where the turn will be. The update will also allow the iDrive system to support a 4G LTE data BMW idrive 3D City View on Mobile connection, rather than a 3G one.

The announcement comes in the wake of 3D mapping software being enhanced by Google and introduced by Apple early this summer. The new 3D views are similar to those offered by portable handheld GPS devices, but do not require expensive new hardware or a separate device to carry around. The new functionality, as TechHunter points out, also allows for more user customization than would be found on a portable GPS.

Google announced its 3D updates at a Google Maps event, demonstrating new features like upgraded 3D textures, offline Google Maps access and Street View Trekker initiative. Google said it would have 3D coverage on major metropolitan areas with more than 3 million residents by the end of the 2012. The updates will be created using a new image rendering technique that allows it to display 3D representations of cities, including buildings, terrain and landscaping. It will be presented at a 45-degree angle.

IOS Flyover 3D Map

Apple displayed its 3D mapping software at WWDC 2012. The Flyover feature allows users to navigate a 3D map to any point in a city and move there from a birds-eye perspective. The map can be manipulated with a fingertip, displaying the location from all angles. Users can access the feature via a 3D button located on the maps screen and can move from birds-eye view to a higher, satellite view.

Reports say that Amazon is also entering the 3D mapping game. The Kindle producer recently acquired UpNext, a 3D mapping startup. If Kindle users want to use mapping software currently, third party apps must be downloaded to the device. Amazon's new acquisition may signal a new mapping functionality in the Kindle or the rumored Amazon smartphone, according to GigaOM.

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