Flyover from Apple and Google
Google announced back in July that they were going to include 3D buildings in their Google Earth app for iPad and iPhone. Most thought back then that they meant the 3D buildings you find in the desktop version of Google Earth as you can see here:
The upside of this technique is that all those buildings have been hand-modeled by enthusiasts for years. A lot of effort has been put in to create detailed photographic-quality versions of real life buildings all over the world. The downside, as you can see, is that these buildings are put on top of 2D satellite photos, so shadows aren't really too realistic, and sometimes, you can see the building underneath the 3D building. This example is of the Civic Center in San Francisco.
Apple launched Flyover in iOS 6 which has 2D photographic images projected on a laser-tracked 3D surface of the landscape. It doesn't always work and the 3D data is far from as perfect as the hand-modeled 3D buildings from Google (or rather, Google users). But, it takes less time and effort, yet is pricier than expecting users to do the work for them. Here is the Civic Center in Flyover in iOS6, not as fancy, but still pretty detailed:
But for their iPad/iPhone update, Google choose to not use these wonderful 3D buildings but rather used the same 3D technique that Apples has employed in their Flyover, resulting in the worst 3D buildings yet in this lineup:
The problem with this is of course that Google is starting from zero and have to fly out and 2D/3D map cities like Apple have, which means that currently, very few cities are included in the 3D buildings update of Google Earth. Not even New York is there.
I suppose I could understand if this is a memory/resource question. I.e. the iPad/iPhone doesn't have the CPU/RAM to handle all those individual 3D buildings that people have created - but surely you could have somehow used that data and incorporated it into a format that the iPad/iPhone could handle?