Google is announcing version 6 of Google Earth, its geographical-exploration software for Windows, OS X, and Linux today. The update follows version 5.2, which was released last June, and while the revisions aren’t enormous, they look neat. (The company gave me a sneak peek last week.)
There are three major changes:
- Google Street View’s street-level photographic imagery is now integrated with Earth’s maps, satellite photos, and computer-generated renderings in a much more seamless fashion–if you just keep zooming or drag the Pegman icon to a spot, you’ll land in Street View mode if it’s available. (Until now, Earth has offered Street View through odd bubbles which remind me of the one Glinda the Good Witch used in The Wizard of Oz.)
- Earth’s computer-generated scenery now includes not only buildings, but…trees! They add to the realism of forests, parks, and other habitats rich with greenery, and Earth is smart enough to render detailed replicas of appropriate local species in Athens, Berlin, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Tokyo, with more to come.
- Earth already had past
satellite satellite and aerial imagery from the recent (Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake) to the historic (London in 1945 and Warsaw in 1935). But it was tough to find unless you already knew to look for it. Now it’s easier to spot, thanks to a notification that appears in the status bar when old imagery is available.
The new version is available now. It’s worth a look whether you’re a Google Earth addict, a past user who hasn’t tried it lately, or someone who’s unaccountably unfamiliar with one of Google’s finest freebies.
Here’s Google’s own video overview of the update: