Google on Monday released an update to its 3D globe and map software, Google Earth. This milestone beta version, classified Google Earth 6.0, doesn’t add any huge new features, but increases usability and realism by tying the 3D Earth images to those captured in Street View, and by adding 3D rendered trees.
Google first brought Street View to Google Earth in 2008 when Google began giving all its mapping and navigation products a similar interface. The first-person perspective view of the world was added as a layer to Google Earth which users would have to switch to if they wanted to use it. Now, there is no switching, as it’s simply been included in Google Earth’s zoom. Users can go as far out as they like and still be able to zoom all the way down to street level without swtiching views.
Google Earth first began to support 3D rendered buildings all the way back in 2006. Since that time, thousands of buildings have been added to the Google Earth database. And even though trees make up nearly 30% of the Earth’s surface, they could only be included in textures on the facades of buildings, and not as actual 3D objects themselves. In Google Earth 6, more than 50 different species of trees have been added, and they have already been included in major city maps in the software.
Finally, the historical imagery that was added to Google Earth 5 last year has been made easier to find. When scanning an area where a historical map is available, the date in history appears in the status bar at the bottom of the screen.
Google Earth 6.0 beta can be downloaded here for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux platforms.