CNET Editors' review
Google Earth continues to set the mapping paradigm. Accessible enough for casual users, Google has added features that make it a necessity for those whose topographic desires are more serious. In addition to Earth cartography, you can also check out Google Ocean, historical Earth maps, and the surface of one of our closest neighbors, Mars.
The oceanic maps provide the capability to plunge to the floor of the sea, view exclusive content from the BBC and National Geographic, and explore shipwrecks like the Titanic in 3D. Exploring the Martian surface is limited to data provided from NASA, but that's not much of a limitation considering that it's unlikely that most of us will ever get to visit the Red Planet. Switching between Google Earth, Sky, and Mars can be done from the menu bar or from the planet icon on the toolbar.
Most of the interface's real estate displays a rendering of the globe, which can zoom in on a satellite image of your destination once you've keyed it in. Controls live on a top toolbar and a left-side navigation window that lets you quickly jump between different views and locations. Google's Street View, real-time illumination of the Earth, roads, restaurants, and even crime statistics can be displayed. Smooth integration with Google's 3D rendering program SketchUp means that you can design buildings and see how they'd interact with their surroundings.
The only downside to the program is that it can consume a large amount of RAM, so older machines might experience performance issues. That can be configured through the Options menu, and recent updates have helped address many of these performance issues, with improvements to rendering speed, frame rate, and even launch time.
Google Earth puts a planet's worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop. View exotic locales like Maui and Paris, as well as points of interest such as local restaurants, hospitals, and schools. Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps, and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips. With Google Earth you can fly from space to your neighborhood--just type in an address and zoom right in, search for schools, parks, restaurants, and hotels. Get driving directions, tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings, save and share your searches and favorites and even add your own annotations.
What's new in this version:
- We updated the LEAP API to version 0.8.1 and fixed a crash affecting a portion of users running Earth on Windows XP. Ã?Â If you want to use a LEAP device with Google Earth, ensure you are running LEAP driver version 0.8.1+ from the LEAP Motion website.Ã?Â
- The "Enable Controller" option is now default on. Ã?Â If you have an uncalibrated external controller (such as a gaming joystick) connected to your computer, this could result in the Earth spinning with arrows displaying ... See all new features
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All versions:3.6 stars
out of 97 votes
Current version:1.0 stars
out of 1 votes
My rating:Write review
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"Requires OS X 10.8.3 and Chrome or Firefox for 3D"
Version: Google Earth 126.96.36.1991
If you have a compatible setup, it's a great way to tour around planet Earth and a few other places.
UIREIf you don't have a compatible setup, don't bother. The lack of 3D on older OS X and non-WebGL browsers makes the application worthless. Don't bother. Google could have provided backwards compatibility but didn't bother. Thus 1/2 star to you Google. :-P
Older OS X also hobbles some of the other features of the application, such as viewing from the app into the web's Google Maps. All you're going to get is a black window. And so on.
If you have a compatible setup, Google Earth is lovely, fast, a great way to tour the planet and beyond.
BUT, this version uses WebGL exclusively for 3D rendering. Therefore, you are REQUIRED to use OS X 10.8.3 or above, AND a WebGL compatible web browser if you're using it via its plug-in on the Web. Otherwise, no 3D for you. Therefore, without a compatible system, you're screwed out of 3D, making Google Earth useless. Don't bother with this version. You'll need to get an older version compatible with your setup. Presumably version 6 doesn't have the high end requirements. Google still offer version 5 for OS X 10.4 via their website.
The GUI is a mess, including some odds and ends that are too small to comprehend that also have no hot help. The basic original interface tools remain nice. But the plethora of odds and end are not explained well, causing you to have to experiment to figure out what stuff does. You'll then have to commit them to memory or be doomed to mess around the next time you use the app to figure its obtuse GUI out all over again.
If you've bot the top notch compatible setup, great! If not, go find an older version or forget about bothering with Google Earth.
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