The Google Earth team release today the latest version of Google Earth, available at http://earth.google.com. The release of Google Earth 4.3 (beta) greatly advances our vision of offering a realistic, 3D model of the world by giving users a higher quality, more immersive experience.
Here’s a summary of what’s new:
New navigation – Google Earth is a 3D application, but we realized that a lot of our users never quite got the hang of using the tilt feature to navigate around 3D features like mountains and buildings. Not only that, but even for expert users, if you tried to get down to the ground and navigate at street-level, navigation was cumbersome and confusing. Well, no more.
We spent a lot of time rethinking how users interact with 3D data. We realized that when in outer space and far above the ground, you really want standard map-like controls that allow you to pan and zoom smoothly. However, if you want to get down to the ground and check out a city street, you really want a street-level navigation mode like you’d typically find in a video game.
Finally, you want to be able to seamlessly transition between these modes as you fly down to visit a city and fly back out to space. So 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.