Google's just-announced 3D maps sound awesome, but they also include a serious downside for the privacy crowd: Anybody who got creeped out by Street View cars shooting their block will now have to worry about Google's camera-toting fleet of airplanes. And those creeped out by Google's camera cars did not represent an insignificant population: Most of Germany, for example, disliked them enough to make Google stop operating them there.
However unlike the cars, which you could see driving by with their Google logos and big camera towers, as Reuters' Alexei Oreskovic notes, you'll probably never notice a Google plane. For one thing, Google's not saying which cities it's releasing maps for, so we don't know where the planes are operating. Also, Google didn't buy the planes like it did the cars. It's contracting with private owners so the planes probably won't have Google's logo emblazoned on them. However, when the 3D maps are all finished, they do sound like they'll be pretty cool. Reuters' Oreskovic quoted Google Earth product manager Peter Birch: "We're trying to create the illusion that you're just flying over the city, almost as if you were in your own personal helicopter."