Is Google Earth for Android more than just eye candy?

Summary:Back when the Nexus One was announced in January Google showed us all Google Earth running on the device, but they failed to mention it was not on the shipping devices we all bought. Many of us looked around on the device and in the Android Market looking for Google Earth and then we finally discovered it would be coming sometime in the near future. Well that time is now and you can find Google Earth in the Android Market

Back when the Nexus One was announced in January Google showed us all Google Earth running on the device, but they failed to mention it was not on the shipping devices we all bought. Many of us looked around on the device and in the Android Market looking for Google Earth and then we finally discovered it would be coming sometime in the near future. Well that time is now and you can find Google Earth in the Android Market for free. It requires Android 2.1 and is targeted towards the Nexus One, but I have read reports of people using it on the Motorola DROID too.

My first attempt at running it on my Nexus One failed miserably with an alert pop-up stating that I did not have enough memory available to store data. I deleted several programs so I could have 30MB of free space and still received the warning with a tap of the icon quitting the program. Wow, how much of a memory hog is this application? I searched around and discovered some people experiencing the same thing who then went and removed Google Earth, rebooted and then reloaded after freeing up some space. After I did all of this, then the application finally started up.

It runs quite smoothly and is visually very nice on that beautiful high resolution display. The iPhone version has four corner controls, but on the Android version you use the menu button system for most functions. These include search, my location, settings, layers, help, and clear search results. Layers include places, businesses, panoramio, wikipedia, roads, borders and labels, and terrain that can all be toggled on or off. Panoramio includes photos that were taken at the specific location so tapping on the small blue boxes opens up photos for you to enjoy.

Pinch to zoom works fluidly and by tapping the small eye icon in the lower left you can rotate the images with a single finger. There is no dual finger rotation control. In the upper right is a directional indicator so as you spin the image you always know where north is.

Once you get it installed and working the program is quite fast and fun to use. I see it more as an eye candy application than a really useful one though and prefer the Google Maps Navigation client for finding places.

Topics: Google, Collaboration, Hardware

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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