June 28, 2005 10:04 AM PDT

Google mapping enters the third dimension

Google has launched its new mapping service that uses local search and satellite images to give users a three-dimensional view of buildings and terrain.

Google Earth, announced on Tuesday, uses technology from the company's Keyhole division, a satellite mapping service it bought in October. The software for the service can be downloaded free from the search giant's Web site.

Google Earth lets people search for a location to get an aerial view, then zoom in to see 3D images of certain buildings and landscapes in select U.S. cities. Images can be tilted and rotated. It also offers dynamic navigation and video playback of driving directions. Users can combine multiple layers of information and save their results for later use, Google said. The company already offers local search and mapping services for Web users and mobile phone users.

"Google Earth utilizes broadband streaming technology and 3D graphics, much like a videogame, enabling users to interactively explore the world--either their own neighborhood or the far corners of the globe," John Hanke, Keyhole at Google general manager, said in a statement.

Search rivals have been launching new mapping services and other tools in an effort to grab more market share in the lucrative search industry. Microsoft last week began testing a mapping service that includes satellite imagery. Amazon.com's A9.com unit has paired local information with digital photos of U.S. businesses in several cities.

Google said that an advanced version of Google Earth, with features such as GPS (Global Positioning System) compatibility and annotation is available for $20 a year. A commercial version that offers high-resolution printing and other professional tools will sell for $400 a year, the company said.


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Not impressed
The Google Earth software is quite easy to use. Unfortunately its usefulness is hampered by the very poor resolution of the images - at least at the two locations I viewed. MUCH better aerial shots (by orders of magnitude) are available at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://terraserver.microsoft.com/" target="_newWindow">http://terraserver.microsoft.com/</a>
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
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WHAT? I can see the car in the drive way and people on the sidewalks.
Posted by (23 comments )
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Quite impressed...
The Google Earth software is indeed quite easy to use. Image
resolution is much better that Terraserver. Plus, the 'tilt turn, and
go' option is sweet. Now, all I need is for Google to come up with
the OS X version (and maybe to get structures and trees to come up
in 3D - like it was done back in the 80's for the Air Force.)
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
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Download broken :-(
Google Earth has been down for days... any work on when we will see this up again??
Posted by jonbruce (4 comments )
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