Google Earth 4 is officially released! The beta program began 6 months ago, and now almost exactly 1 year after GE 3 was released, GE 4 is no longer in beta (latest version is 4.0.2722). See the Google Earth home page for details, or just go download GE 4 now. GE 4 has many new features not available in the earlier version. Many of the features have been described in this blog over the past few months. Here are some highlights and why you should definitely consider upgrading.
New Google Earth 4 features:
- 3D Models – GE 4 supports a new format which allows for models which have textures. It also supports the new 3D buildings layer. The official release of GE includes lots of optimizations to improve 3D viewing.
- Time Animation – the new time slider appears when KML content has been stamped with time. Read about the new time feature. And, here is a list of the top ten time animations done in 2006 for GE 4.
- New Look – GE 4 has a much cleaner look than GE 3. It devotes more attention to the main 3D view, and has a new navigation gadget which appears in the upper right corner. There are too many enhancements to list them all. Some notable ones are: Support for radio buttons in KML, network link icons animate when loading, new organized menus, and more GE Options.
- Controllers – Support for joystick controllers and flight simulator yokes. And, best of all, the new SpaceNavigator (Windows only at the moment, but a Mac driver soon).
- Regions – GE 4 supports very large image overlays which can be “tiled” or “regionated” so you can view the full detail as you zoom in. See the “Rumsey Historical Maps” in the “Featured Content” layer for an excellent example of this powerful feature.
If you have been following this blog during the past six months, and have been keeping up with the numerous beta releases, you may have seen many of the new features. But, there is so much new content and so many new layers, even I haven’t seen everything. Either way, make sure you have the new release and have fun! Thanks to Google and its fantastic Google Earth team for all the hard work!