Google has released a big upgrade to Google SketchUp 7 – their 3D modeling tool. SketchUp 7 is available in a free version, and a Pro version which includes a number of features helpful to professional modelers (such as a presentation tool, more model making features, printing, and e-mail support – see comparison). The Pro version costs $495, but is available for free to educators and only $49 for students.
The free version of SketchUp allows you to create models, upload/download them to/from the Google 3D Warehouse, and place them in Google Earth. The new SketchUp 7 has even tighter integration with the 3D Warehouse allowing you to view and download models directly from within SketchUp 7.
SketchUp 7 also supports a major new feature for Dynamic Components – doors that open, wheels that turn, etc. Unfortunately, models with the dynamic component do not show the animations in Google Earth – yet. We’ll probably have to wait for a future version of GE to get that support.
Here’s the rather silly announcement video (which covers a few of the new features):
Although there are not substantial new features for Google Earth in this release of SketchUp, any improvements in model making capability will enhance the quality of 3D models seen in GE.
Stefan Geens at OgleEarth was first to report on the SketchUp 7 in my blog roll.