Introducing Google Earth

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Late last night/early this morning, Google launched the highly anticipated full version of Google Earth, the search engine’s stand-alone global map utility. The following is a detailed, blow-by-blow description of the launch provided by Nathan Weinberg.

Introducing Google Earth
Google Introduces The Earth… For Free

Editor’s Note: Have any of you downloaded Google Earth yet? If so, let us know what you think. Are you impressed or disappointed? Would you consider upgrading to Google Earth Plus? Discuss this and other points at WebProWorld.

The post appeared at his blog, InsideGoogle. Nathan was quite impressed with Google’s newest device, and judging by his blog comments, so are others. With that, here’s Nathan’s account:

Google Earth Launching For Free? Launches For Free

Nathan Weinberg | Contributing Writer

I heard a rumor that Google is about to officially release Google Earth, it’s standalone Windows application that combines satellite imagery with Google Local and Google Maps. Best of all, my source says it is going to be completely free. However, this is purely a rumor, and while the source is reputable, the source is not entirely sure. I will officially stake nothing on this rumor, but smugly reserve the right to claim credit if it proves true. Then again, we’ll know very soon enough.

UPDATE: Confirmed! Thank you, sir. I couldn’t have beaten that article by more than ten minutes, but I’ll take it.

UPDATE 2: So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, the details. Google Earth will be made available at earth.google.com shortly as a free download. In fact, its surprising it isn’t there already. The subscription fee is gone, but a $20 fee will get you Google Earth Plus with more features and even more money will buy even bigger versions of the program.

The program lets you do smooth sailing flybyes of the entire Earth. You can easily fly to any spot on the globe, by entering any associated data, like street addresses, place names or lat/long coordinates. There are overlays that put additional information on the map, like roads, international boundaries, terrain, 3D buildings, crime statistics, schools, stadiums, any number of interesting stuff.

You can do Local searches in the program, with icons on the map and a display on the side showing your results. You can leave notes, called “placemarks” all over the map, so you can remember where all sorts of places are. Searches and placemarks can be saved as bookmarks in “My Places”. Everything can be output in an XML format called KML, that will allow the vast popularity of Google Maps to continue in Earth. You can also email a JPEG of the map, or send a KMZ file if you know the recipient has Earth installed.
Google Earth Plus gives higher resolution images, GPS support, and more sophisticated annotation (like drawing on the map). Online help is available right here.

Screenshot mania!:

Editor’s Note : (Due to length constraints, we’ve only included a couple of Nathan’s images. He has quite a bit more and they can be seen at his blog. It’s worth it to take a look if you are unsure about downloading Google’s latest tool.

Here are Google Earth’s 3D buildings:

Major highways:

UPDATE 3: The download is available now.

System requirements:

Minimum configuration:

  • Operating system: Windows 2000, Windows XP
  • CPU speed: Intel Pentium PIII 500 MHz
  • System memory (RAM): 128MB
  • 200MB hard-disk space
  • 3D graphics card: 3D-capable video card with 16MB VRAM
  • 1024×768, 32-bit true color screen
  • Network speed: 128 kbps (“Broadband/Cable Internet”)
  • Recommended configuration:

  • Operating system: Windows XP
  • CPU speed: Intel Pentium P4 2.4GHz+ or AMD 2400xp+
  • System memory (RAM): 512MB
  • 2GB hard-disk space
  • 3D graphics card: 3D-capable video card with 32MB VRAM or greater
  • 1280×1024, 32-bit true color screen
  • Network speed: 128 kbps (“Broadband/Cable Internet”)
  • I had to download, save, and add “.exe” to the end of the install file, but that’s probably because I’m doing all this as Google is uploading it. I’m sure they’ll fix it, but just be aware of the issue. Also, Googlers, fix the typo on this page (“Googsle Earth”) at the bottom.

    Google has put together a Google Earth Sightseeing page with images of famous landmarks, and the KMZ files that will get you there.

    UPDATE 4: Installed, and using it. Here are some screenshots (click to enlarge):

    The Earth, baby!

    For more of Nathan’s Google Earth screenshots, go here

    UPDATE 5: Final update. I cannot contain how impressed I am with Google Earth. Absolutely, this is a great release. The feeling you get when you double-click on an area and the map glides over, falling into the Earth, with place names and street grids revealing themselves, is stunning and jaw-dropping

    Sure, there are things that pissed me off, like it completely sucking at finding residential street addresses, that the satellite maps are one level too blurry to 100% identify any house, and that the road maps are harder to follow than those in Google Maps. All that went away, when Google Earth flew me into my neighborhood, and I started putting placemarks on my bedroom and on the homes of some of my friends. Then, I set up a tour of those locations, and marveled as I was, indeed, taken on an aerial tour of my hood. All the while, street names fluttered in and out as necessary, and most of the stores on Main Street (yes, we have a Main Street in New York, or at least in Queens) had nice labels that appeared on some zoom levels.

    Then I turned on the overlays. Now I know how many murders were in Queens in 2000 (187), the population (2229379) (even if the overlay icons were on top of each other, forcing me to shut one off to see the other), see all the pharmacies, gas stations, restuarants, libraries, parking lots, hospitals, banks, airports, fire stations, parks, stadiums, golf courses, churches, trains, movie rental stores, malls, bars, and highway exits in the area, and find out where my ZIP code congressional or school district ends.

    Unbelievable. Amazing, absolutely amazing. You will be showing this off to your friends. I’m probably coming off as a little too excited, true, but I just genuinely enjoy using this product. Google did good with this one, and Keyhole did a great job. Bravo!

    Reader Comments…

    Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.

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    • http://www.seethrureviews.com/Fat-Loss-For-Idiots-Reviews.html Fat Loss For Idiots Diet

      Google Earth is great. I use it just for fun right now and spend countless hours on it.

    • http://www.shellmedia.net Shellmedia

      It’s crazy how far Google Earth has come, and so many neat/useful “mashups” have been made from it as well.

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