Top 10 New Google Earth Features of 2006

As the end of the year approaches, Google Earth Blog would like to highlight some of the best Google Earth-related news of 2006. Today we’ll highlight some of the best features introduced to Google Earth this year:

  1. Time Animation – Adding the 4th dimension to GE 4 was my favorite new feature added to the program this year. The innovative applications already developed are just a taste of what is to come. See the Blue Marble time animation, or the animation of building growth in London.
  2. SktechUp and Textures with 3D models – Google made a free version of SketchUp available which integrates with Google Earth. And, with the release of the GE 4 beta supported 3D models with textures. Textures provide the ability to add photo-realism to 3D models. And GE 4 supports a new standard for 3D model file formats called Collada.
  3. Enhanced Network Links – Network links are like live updating URL links to other servers while viewing GE content. Google has wisely continued to refine the performance and functionality of one of their most powerful features for GE. This has enabled things like live tracking of airplane flights, automatically updating global weather.
  4. Support for Mac/Linux/Windows – The fact that Google supports GE on Windows, Mac, and Linux is fantastic. No other virtual globe in 2006 supports all these platforms.
  5. Google Earth 4 – While many new features were introduced as part of the GE 4 beta, one thing I would like to point out is that GE 4 introduced a consistent look and feel between the different platforms (Mac/Windows/Linux). This was a smart move, and is one of the better features introduced this year by itself.
  6. New Feature Line-up – Late this year Google re-arranged their feature line up. Now, the free version of GE includes line and polygon drawing capabilities. And the Pro version of GE now includes the movie making module and other features which formerly cost hundreds of dollars more.
  7. Controller interface – You can now hook up your game controllers and other input devices (like flight simulator yokes) to GE 4.
  8. Imporoved layers interface – This year Google enhanced the layers interface with nested folders and added the ability for radio-buttons in a folder so you could selectively choose one feature from a list. These improvements were necessary since Google added so many new layers to the built-in layers of GE.
  9. Huge Amounts of New Imagery – Google added millions of square miles of new imagery to Google Earth during the year. The biggest updates were in June and September. Hundreds of millions of people are now able to see their house, and other really interesting things, in high resolution which weren’t able to a year ago.
  10. Huge Amount of New Layer Data – This is probably one of the most overlooked features of Googel Earth. The layers (found in the lower left pane in the GE interface) provide access to many megabytes of data on everything from points of interest around the world and Wikipedia articles to videos, GPS tracks, National Geographic magazine articles, and more. The new “Featured Content Layers” help highlight GE content from external sources.

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Comments

  1. I also really like the new Show Bubbles During Tours feature. I make a lot of placemark sets that have photos or text attached to each placemark, and the ability to make them display automatically during a tour means I can sit back on the couch and talk away as the tour plays without having to manually click each one open. Very cool.

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