Why does the map not appear 3D?


TPE 3D is not recommended for photographers 

  • who predominantly shoot cityscapes
  • who work primarily in flat terrain

The app does not currently show buildings in 3D, and there is limited benefit to be had from the 3D view in flat locations.


You expect to see something like this:


Instead you see something like this:


How you get a richer 3D appearance?

Managing Expectations

If you're located somewhere flat, then the map will by definition largely appear flat and 2D.

Even if a location is not perfectly flat, then there are still limits to the resolution of the topographic data that TPE 3D uses. Roughly speaking, each elevation data point is a ~30 x 30m square (approximately the size of the footprint of a moderate sized house and garden/yard). That means the fine-grained features will not appear.

Additionally, if you fly the camera close to the ground, you will see less in the way of elevation and map data as there will be fewer data points (or map tile pixels) available.

However, there are a number of things we can do to improve what we see.

Flight further from the ground

Flying further from the ground will allow more data to be shown and will limit pixellation of the maps.

Please read this article for more details on how to manage map resolution: Scene lacks detail, or looks unclear/pixellated.


Use enhanced mode

When enhanced mode is enabled the scene is rendered using higher resolution topographical and map data. You can see the difference here:


The map resolution is improved, but the scene still looks flat and relatively "2D".

Adjust the time of day to near sunrise or sunset

Although this location is relatively flat, there is some detail in the topography. However, because the selected time is in the middle of the day, the map is more or less top lit. Just as in photography, longer shadows make for a more interesting looking scene. Here's how it looks shortly after sunrise:


It's now much easier to see that the terrain is indeed modeled in 3D.

We can zoom in by pinching to compare the view with our original un-enhanced, middle-of-the-day screenshot:


 Short link to this article:


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