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Version 5.0 of the Virtual Earth API Available

Over at the MSDN blogs Virtual Earth program manager Andy McGovern has come up with the following update: "we’ve been busy poking around the Virtual Earth forums and blogs, listening to corporate customers and mashuppers alike, and coming up with a list of the top features and fixes that would make the best mapping API even better—better for end users, but mainly better for you, the developer. We think you’ll like what we’ve come up with." The following are just some of the new features:

- import polylines and polygons using GeoRSS feeds.

Google Earth To Showcase Beautiful Buildings

Architecture is one of those subjects that appeals, on some level, to just about everybody; from your basic suburban house to St. Basil’s Cathedral, it’s just too entwined in our lives to go unnoticed.  Now architecture is being noticed by Google Earth – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has helped design two new 3D layers for the software.

Google Earth Adds Hiking Trails, GPS Data
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The sun is setting, you’re surrounded by trees, and you just heard a noise that sounded like Jabba the Hut’s rancor monster.  Never fear – Google and Trimble will get you home.  Thanks to a new GPS content layer, they’ll also get you “a wide variety of multimedia data on fitness and outdoor adventures, including routes, points of interest, pictures, video and audio.”

Google To Host Global Developer Day

Google is planning on hosting a Google Developer Day on May 31, which will take place in ten countries around the globe. The event will include workshops, keynotes and discussions on Google’s APIs (application programming interfaces) and developer tools.

"We’re very excited to hold this first-ever worldwide Google developer gathering," said Google Vice President of Search Products and User Experience Marissa Mayer.

Microsoft Maps Doesn’t Get the Hype

First, thanks Leon Atkinson for the compliment: Scoble’s links are as good as the links that come out of Digg.”

Google Earth Under Microscope
Trying to distance yourself from suggestions that you are too powerful, or becoming more like Microsoft, is hard to do when a U.S. House Subcommittee sends you a letter claiming you’re attempting to “airbrush history.”

Big Easy Ain’t Easy For Google Earth

Google has faced a hurricane of criticism for changing their Google maps images of post-Katrina New Orleans to pre-storm images. The reasons for the change are flimsy at best.

Chikai Ohazama, a Google product manager for satellite imagery told the AP that the maps now available are the best the company can offer. He said that a number of factors determine what goes into the databases, "everything from resolution to quality to when the actual imagery was acquired."

Major Imagery Release at Live Maps / Virtual Earth

A major imagery release just went online at Live Maps and the Virtual Earth platform – 3.8 terabytes worth of imagery to be exact.

The 3.8TB update features dozens more cities of Birds eye coverage as well as some high resolution ortho imagery from the Ultracam and GlobeXplorer. And lots of European Birds eye coverage, including some countries that had not been previously covered at all. Here’s a list of all of the new coverage by region:

New cities with Birds Eye Coverage around the world:

Google Maps API Supports GeoRSS, KML

Google Maps now supports the GeoRSS file format, and the Google Maps API now allows you to add geographic data in the form of KML files to your mashups, the official Google Maps API blog reports. Frank Taylor of the unofficial Google Earth blog throws in some caveats:

Google Earth Isn’t Keen On Blurring Indian Sites!

The concern grows amongst Indian security agencies as Google Earth continues to show clear images of strategic Indian sites. People from all around the world can see clear images of Indian Parliament house from all possible angels.

Google Earth Promotes Global Awareness
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One thing you can say about Google is they don’t stray too far from their Birkenstocks –aside from the legal department, where the smell of free love will get you shot on sight. But two new environmental layers added to Google Earth are evidence of those patchouli-scented sandals.

Census Data in Google Earth

A student at Stanford has come up with a  cool app for Google Earth called gCensus. 

Currently, only the US Census 2000′s Summary File 1 (displaying population characteristics such as race and age) is available for mapping but there’s no doubt the developer and others will mashup more Census data in the near future. 

Virtual Earth Watches The Weather Channel

A new tool from The Weather Channel utilizes Microsoft’s Virtual Earth to let visitors drift through the clouds and weather systems from the desktop.

Google Earth and KML: The Searchability of Everything

Some sympathy here for Tim O’Reilly’s comment on this post about Google Earth and the new capabilities being unleashed for developers. "People should be jumping up and down about this!"

I’m guessing the people who usually jump up and down don’t understand it, and the people who will be working with it aren’t given to jumping up and down.

Locating Google Earth KML / KMZ files with Google Search

A tip… if you’d like to locate some KMLs for viewing in Google Earth there’s a very simple way to search ALL the KMLs available onn the web (they are simple text files remember).

Local Businesses, Google Earth Embrace

Two interesting (and superficially related) developments have occurred: Local business ads are starting to show up in Google Earth, and ads for Google Maps are starting to show up in the windows of local businesses (one business in the UK, at least).

Insurgents Use Google Earth To Target British

During a raid on Iraqi insurgents, British Army intelligence made a chilling discovery. Insurgents were using Google Earth to locate soft targets at British bases in Basra.

Google Earth 4 Out Of Beta

The fourth incarnation of Google Earth was released this week with some interesting new features being heralded by enthusiasts. A new 3D building layer has been added in answer to Microsoft’s Virtual Earth 3D beta.

Yahoo Local Search Added To GPS Device

A new GPS manufacturer is the first to add an in-car local search engine to its features, and the umpteenth millionth company to issue a rotten press release. But let’s stick to the good news. Dash Navigation’s soon-to-be-released GPS device will feature Yahoo! Local search.

PA Gets Special Treatment From Google Earth

Google has a lot of fans, and has made friends with any number of businesses. Now the company has befriended the state of Pennsylvania. The “Google Earth geospatial image browser” is set to launch “on the official tourism website of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, VisitPA.com.”

Google Earth’s Christmas Toy Hunt

Never let it be said that Google doesn’t embrace the holiday season. From various logo designs to free Google Checkout use, Google has always been very festive during the month of December.

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