Google updates Google Earth

Google yesterday introduced an update of its unique Google Earth program, which it describes as its “interactive digital atlas.” The latest version integrates the much-publicized Street View program and, as the above video illustrates, makes it possible to swoop down from outer space directly to a ground level view in one seamless flight.

Google has also incorporated navigation controls from Street View, including the Pegman icon which users can drag and drop to move from one location to another. You can also move around using the scroll-wheel on a mouse or the arrow keys on a keyboard, even recreating the sensation of walking down a street.

Google Earth 6 also extends the 3D modeling of buildings which was available on earlier versions by now incorporating 3D images of dozens of species of trees. By Google’s count, they already have over 80 million 3D trees in places as far apart as Athens, Berlin, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Tokyo. They have also been working with organizations in Africa and Brazil to model some of the planet’s threatened forests.

Finally, the latest version of Google Earth makes it easier to view a location’s historical imagery. With this feature, users can go back in time and see how a location looked in a previous era. Examples include Warsaw in 1935, London in 1945, and Port-au-Prince before and after January’s devastating earthquake. Now, if prior era imagery is available, a date will appear in the status bar at the bottom of the screen. Click on the date and you’ll immediately be transported back in time.

If you have never used Google Earth, Google has posted a number of helpful videos. There are beginner tutorials, as well as help with using some of the more advanced features. If you want to revisit a childhood home, check out a potential vacation spot, or just take a look around your local neighborhood, you will be amazed at the results!      

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