Google Earth, the 3D global mapping application that has grown to become one of the most popular and freely-accessible software developments to come out of Mountain View not directly affiliated with its search engine nor its advertising business, has just today received an update. Google Earth 4.3 (Beta) is now available for download.
There are several things new with the latest software upgrade. First, as many of you well know, Google is regularly looking to expand its audience and cater its services ever more to the international arena. So in its pursuit of linguistic equanimity, the company now touts the addition of 12 new languages in the new version of Google Earth. They include: Danish, English (UK), Spanish (Latin American), Finnish, Hebrew, Indonesian, Norwegian, Portuguese (PT), Romanian, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.
On the technical front, the new release of Google Earth arrives with enhanced navigation tools, which Google hopes users will find to be more intuitively operable. Peter Birch, a product manager at Google Earth, explain the upgrade thusly:
“We modified the zoom control. As you get closer to the ground, your view slowly tilts, almost as if you are parachuting onto the ground. We also added a new control, the “look” joystick, which allows you to look around. If you are on the ground, you can change your viewpoint and look up at buildings, down canyons, or over at the rising sun. If you use the “pan” joystick when on the ground, you will follow the ground as if you were walking on it.”
Another addition to Google Earth’s navigation controls is the much-requested Street View option, which first arrived under the Google nameplate back in May 2007 within the more elementary Google Maps utility. The company’s software engineers have employed the PhotoOverlay feature to give Google Earth users a view of panorama shots from ground level, which can be seen when the Street View layer is activated. Going from an overhead angle to one at the city’s street is as simple as double-clicking an icon associated with an overlaid photo.
Google also promises more prevalent displays of buildings modeled in SketchUp. The company notes that navigation through the 3D map when buildings are shown is significantly quicker, too.
Lastly, for those Google Earth users who consider the static lighting of the globe a nuisance – in the past, you’ll have noticed that everything is shown under a mid-day sun – and a physical disgrace, not to worry. Clicking the new sunlight button in advance of hitting the play button on the time slider will give you the chance to watch the sun circle the globe. (Figuratively speaking, anyhow. Google does recognize the orbital truths of our solar system.) You can also zoom in from afar and watch the sunrise crest the horizon.
By the bye, the announcement of the new release of Google Earth also notes that it will be gradually adding particular mapping information in the form of imagery acquisition dates. These details are presumably not the focus of the broad majority of users of the software package, but some do wish for such data, so Google has made sure to note that it will provide as much in the way of photographic time stamps as possible.Google Earth 4.3 Beta is available for download for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.