Google Australia has announced the release of Build with Chrome (or Build for short), perhaps the simplest online LEGO builder we've seen, and one that works right in your browser - as long as its Chrome. Completed models are located on a Google Map, which effectively becomes a permanent exhibition space of submitted LEGO models.
Initially presenting the user with a familiar Google Map-style interface focused on a LEGO-fied depiction of Australia and New Zealand, users are invited to zoom in to view completed models and select a plot for their own creation.
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Google may describe this as the "largest LEGO set you’ve ever seen," but you'll find you're limited to one 32 x 32 patch at a time, building with 12 instantly-familiar brick types with doors and windows filed under an "extras" tab. There's a choice of ten colors which can be applied brick by brick.
The construction tool was built by Google using WebGL, and Google claims the apparent simplicity belies the power of the app, which it claims "would not have been possible a couple of years ago." Build with Chrome proves simple enough to use, especially to anyone with experience of Google's 3D modeling tool, SketchUp. Submitted models are subject to an approval process prior to being published on the map.
At the moment plots on the map are limited to Australia and New Zealand (though there is acres of space to get building), but Google hopes to expand to other countries.
The project forms part of LEGO's Festival of Play, which marks the 50th anniversary of LEGO in Australia. Whether Build is here to stay in the long term isn't clear. We hope it is.
The timelapse video below shows the creation of the Sydney Harbour Bridge using Build with Chrome.