29 Jun 2005, 04:48

Google Earth

Google released Google Earth today, and holy crap is it amazing. It combines the already cool functionality of the recently acquired Keyhole with the yellow pages and directions services of Google Maps. It’s definitely quite impressive. Granted, as a Windows only (for now) application, it does lose a little of the convenience factor of the browser based interface of Google Maps, but makes up for it with smoothness and style. It’s pretty much just the same image data that Google Maps uses, so you’re not really seeing anything new there, but being able to seamlessly fly around from place to place, rotate, tilt, zoom, and search for new places to see is somewhat addictive. Even cooler is the ability to mark certain locations, save them, and share them with others. For example, you can see the church where Jolayne and I got married (requires Google Earth to be installed, obviously). Additionally, there are shared points of interest on the map that were marked by users of the service back when it was just Keyhole. These points often show things that just look cool from the air, or provide additional information about a location. One helpful tip though: you should definitely increase the amount of memory that it uses to keep a cache of the images. The default is just 32MB, which can cause it to have to redownload the images if you move away from and area and come back and that can be a little slow. I bumped it up to 256MB so now it should hopefully almost never have to reload image data of an area I’ve already visited in the same session. You can also increase the disk space that it uses for caching, up to 512MB (from a default of 400) which is probably a good idea as well.


Comment by Tobin on 2005-06-29 13:14:58 +0000

I agree, this thing rocks. You have seen San Francisco and the 3D buildings, right? Pure genius.

Comment by Will on 2005-06-29 14:08:55 +0000

Yes that’s awesome too, but of course I must now point out that Kansas City gets 3D buildings, while Columbus (sadly) does not. Ha!

I know it would be a huge job to get the image data, but can you imagine how cool it would be if the buildings had textures instead of just being wireframes?