Google Earth updated to version with some nice improvements

Over the last few days, Google has been rolling out an update to Google Earth. If you were already on Google Earth 6.2, this update should have been applied to your software automatically.
The main change is a nice improvement to how the Google+ sharing feature works. In the initial version of 6.2, shared items on Google+ would appear as a small thumbnail and link to a larger version. Now it shows a larger photo in your stream, and clicking on it brings up the full-size version in the Google+ lightbox photo viewer.
As an added bonus, this means that your photos can be manipulated in the Google+ “creative kit” for easy cropping, resizing, etc. The one missing piece is an easy way for users to view that imagery for themselves in Google Earth. Perhaps the share button could generate (and link to) a KML file of that location, similar to sites like do (as mentioned in the comments on this Google+ post).
In addition, there are some changes to the “pretty earth” imagery as part of this update. The most important change is how it renders the transitions to the high resolution imagery as you get closer to the ground. They have lifted the final transition to a mucher higher altitude. This was important because too much valuable information was not visible which was a waste to the high resolution data available.
One other thing to point out is the rendering of the shallow waters of the Bahamas. The Bahamas waters are a big feature you can see from space. In the past, Google showed the darker blue bathymetry instead of the actual satellite imagery of the turquoise waters. It now looks much more authentic as seen from space with actual satellite imagery of the turquoise waters seen instead.


All in all, it’s a nice little update. It fixes some of the issues with the initial sharing features in 6.2, and it continues to improve the high-level imagery of the earth. Good job Google!

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. I have posted this on GE support forum, but nobody cared, and would like to get some feedback from you. Does the “Labels/Icon Size” option work if you change from “Normal” to “Small” in GE 6.1 and 6.2?
    I have tested it in multiple computers, OSes and graphic cards, and it only works up to version 6.03.
    Has the new font setting in GE 6.1+ ruined it?
    Fonts in GE 6.1+ look huge and cannot be reduced without becoming unreadable, due to font style and shadow.
    Thanks for your help.

  2. The new Bahanas feature and other tweaks to ‘pretty’ GE are viewable in 6.1, and @AC the three level label/icon size setting in GE preferences > 3D view works OK in OS X 10.6 if that is any help. But Google have some way to go on improving accessibility for users with poor vision.
    So, given the apparently yet unresolved reported bugs in 6.2, there still seems no compelling reason to upgrade from 6.1 unless you want to share via Google+.

  3. Thanks Chris. I haven’t tested it in MacOS. Did test under Windows XP, Windows 7 and Linux Mint 12, using DirectX and OpenGL modes, and on Intel, ATI and Nvidia graphics cards.
    I can see a size change on switching from normal to large, but not from normal to small.
    In 6.03 it works correctly and can further reduce label and icon scale to 80% without loosing readability. And that with standard Arial 14 fonts. 6.1 uses size 16 fonts by default, and due to it’s style, you can’t even change it to size 14 without loosing readability.
    6.1 was a step back for me.
    The new imagery looks fine on 6.03.

  4. @AC – I have checked again, and the size change from default/normal to small (once ‘done’ is clicked) seems only marginal and might not even be noticed.
    Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any way of changing text size in the GE layers side panel or in GE pop ups, which is now normal on browsers and many websites to aid accessibility.

  5. Just installed this version over the previous V6.1 installation. Upon first starting it, I had the black/white blank Earth bug many others reported. This clears once I turn off the Atmosphere option. However, once I tilt the perspective up to the point that just the slightest glimpse of sky comes into the FOV, the Earth turns completely white again, so most tilted views are unusable for me.
    I’m also getting the “shattered mirror” buggy view that someone mentioned on every kind of overlay image, so I can pretty much forget about overlays until that is fixed.
    I’m also not a fan of the changes to the rendering that the release notes mention. I’m not sure what exactly it is I’m seeing, but there is no “fading” for me really. I just get oddly darkening squares dropping in on the imagery, which are getting brighter the more I zoom in. Actually, in practice this looks very much as if the “Sun” option is always turned on and set to a fixed time of day (morning, I would say) and cannot be turned off, regardless of the setting choice itself.
    In short: another Google Earth update, another messy bugfest. Thank god we don’t have to pay actual money for this.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.