Finally, Google has added photo-realistic 3D buildings to Google Earth. This has been a long time coming -- Microsoft has had 3D buildings for what seems like forever. The timing of this announcement is strange, as I would have expected it to come at some sort of event like Where 2.0 in May.
Along with the 3D buildings, they have also given us new navigation controls -- which I'm not particularly fond of (with exception of the "look" tool). On my initial trial of the new version, I was not able to figure out how to change the angle of view without using my arrow keys in combination with the shift key. I would hope there is a better way that I'm just missing.
Also, Google added the Sun. Use the sun controls to view the sunrise or sunset from anywhere on Earth. It's pretty cool watching the sun set or rise in the Swiss Alps like they demonstrated in this video. Now if only they could get Google Sky exactly right, we would have an awesome tool to explore the entire universe.
Here is a list of changes to Google Earth published on the official Google blog:
- New navigation - We've improved the zoom control so you can swoop down from outer space to street level in a single seamless motion. And with the addition of the "look" joystick, you can look up at buildings or across a mountain range.
- More, faster 3D buildings - It's more fun to navigate through a lot of new 3D content. Besides adding thousands of buildings contributed by people around the world, we've added dozens of photo-textured cities and towns in the U.S. and elsewhere.
- Street View - The popular Google Maps feature makes its Google Earth debut.
- Sunlight feature - Never seen the sunrise over the Alps? Now you can.
- New languages - There are 12 new languages, including Danish, English (UK), Spanish (Latin American), Finnish, Hebrew, Indonesian, Norwegian, Portuguese (PT), Romanian, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.
[image from Google]