How Many Google Map Tiles Does It Take To Map The Earth?

Yesterday Google Maps 5 became available for phones running Android 2.2 or newer. One of the key features of the upgrade is the ability to cache information so that maps will continue to display even if the phone is not connected to the Internet. In a blog post titled “Under The Hood Of Google Maps 5.0 for Android” Google explains how it uses vector graphics to provide the offline capabilities.

By using vector graphics Maps 5 does not download image tiles, as previous versions did to create the map display. Instead, Maps 5 downloads vector graphic data that it uses to generate the map. The process is similar to how a web browser downloads and interprets HTML to generate a web page. By using vector graphic data much more map data can downloaded in and stored on the phone. Rendering vector graphic data on the fly also enables Maps to create more precise looking maps that even have 3D images of buildings.

In the article Google says that previous versions of Google Maps uses 360 billion 256 x 256 pixel image tiles to cover the whole world at 20 zoom levels.