Google has quietly (
so far – UPDATE: here’s the Google announcement) released an update to the Google Earth Plugin that advances it to GE Version 5 status. This means some of the most important features from GE 5 are now available in the browser-based GE plugin and, more importantly, some are supported in the GE API (API stands for Application Programming Interface). This means developers can write applications for the browser plugin that take advantage of some of the GE 5 features. The GE plugin updates itself automatically to the latest version (UPDATE: I had a report that someone didn’t automatically get the update – he uninstalled the plugin and it re-isntalled the new version. But, Google may just be slowly making the automatic updates). Note: This is NOT an April Fools joke!
So, what’s included in the new release? You can read the list yourself on the release notes, but here are some highlights:
GE 5 Tour Support – I’m very excited about this one – the browser plugin will now support playback of GE 5 recorded tours. There’s a demo of this already.
Mars Support – Another biggie, you will now be able to load the Mars database in the GE Plugin. Here’s a sample using Mars in the plugin.
PhotoOverlay Support – the plugin will reportedly support PhotoOverlay through the API. I know several developers who will like this one.
Time Support – The time slider will now work/appear with time-based KML’s.
Ocean in Plugin – the 3D ocean added in GE 5 is now available in the plugin – see example . The API also supports negative altitudes for underwater applications.