June 12, 2006 3:24 PM PDT

Google Earth zooms in

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Google unveiled on Monday a new version of its Google Earth application, which features greater coverage and higher resolution, even showing people walking in some locations--detail you get with aerial photography and not usually satellites.

The downloadable Google Earth 4.0 runs on PCs, Macs and Linux-based machines and is available in localized versions in French, Italian, German and Spanish, according to Michael Jones, chief technology officer of Google Earth. Jones, speaking here at Google Geo Developer Day, said the improvements will eventually show up in the Web-based Google Maps site.

Google Earth screenshots

Developers can use Google's SketchUp 3D modeling software to make the images as lifelike as possible, such as adding texture to buildings. Users can also overlay different data on top of the same view. In a product demonstration, Jones showed a 3D view of San Francisco from 2005, and with a click, showed the same view of San Francisco in the 1940s.

"Developers can place images on top of (the map) that span the whole Earth," Jones said, half-jokingly calling it a "time travel" application. "I think people will use it to share ancient maps (and share) information about possible future developments."

Mark Limber, product manager for Google's SketchUp modeling software, demonstrated how to create a 3D building and insert it into a Google Earth map. Realtors can use SketchUp to build models of homes and put them into maps to show prospective buyers, he said. A repository of links to geographic- and nongeographic-referenced objects that can be used is located here.

Jones also showed off the Google Earth Community, which he described as "participatory mapping," in which individuals can add personal placemarks to information on the map.

More than 30,000 developers around world are using the Google Earth application programming interface, and there have been 100 million downloads of Google Earth, said John Hanke, Google Earth and Maps product director.

Google representatives also demonstrated how people can easily overlay geographic data on top of a Google map without hosting a map on a Web site to create a map "mashup." Google is adding geographic-coding support to Google maps so developers can easily get the coordinates for an street address.

The company also introduced Google Maps for Enterprise, which can be used by companies internally and includes service and support. Pricing starts at about $10,000 per year.

Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence said he was impressed with the improvements in resolution and coverage. "Google is trying to make all these tools more accessible to ordinary people and get them engaged in content," he said. "In addition, the idea of a geobrowser is fascinating, as is the eventual merger of gaming and mapping."

See more CNET content tagged:
Google Earth, Google Inc., map, modeling, Google Maps

4 comments

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Less resolution at my location
I just downloaded and directed the new beta to my street address.
The resolution appears to be significantly lower than the prior
version.
Posted by nicmart (1829 comments )
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More resolution at my location...
...because I run Linux and it's surprising that this article fails to mention that this is one the biggest "new features" of the latest Google Earth, but far too many news.com articles seem to involve little more than paraphrasing press releases rather than having additional comments from intelligent IT journalists :-(

The article just lists Linux as one of the platforms Google Earth runs on, but this is its Linux debut remember! It's a pretty good port too - none of the Winelib dubiousness we saw with Linux Picasa. Now where's Linux SketchUp?! This is the sort of question the article should be posing rather than regurgitating whatever Google feeds news.com.
Posted by rklrkl (143 comments )
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This isn't really something 'new' on the scene
Ask.com's maps (maps.ask.com) tool has had this functionality for ages. Google always does a great job of copying existing technology and making it seem innovative. =) I wonder how long it'll be before Google allows you to get 'walking' directions, like maps.ask.com?
Posted by akmckee (2 comments )
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Google Earth
I really love the almost real time look you get from Google Earth. But there is one thing that I have found that is dreadfully wrong with the site that should be checked. The road to my farm is marked incorrectly. It states that Stable Lane goes into a non-existant road to a farmers field and that my farm is on Guldin Road. When in all actuallity, the property up the road where the lane "Y's," the right side that goes to the Guldin's home and property is Guldin Road. The side where the lane bears to the left of the Y is Stable Lane and goes all the way back to my farm which ends at 240 Stable Lane. Where and who do I tell to make sure they get this information corrected? Thank you.
Posted by Tracieglynn57 (1 comment )
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