I have first heard of Google Earth in 2005 and have been hooked to it ever since. Not only is it a brilliant tool for exploring any place in the world you wish to see, but it is invaluable for planning journeys, helping you find and navigate your way in new places and looking up addresses.
There are many features to Google Earth, including 3D buildings, locations of places of interest, weather, roads and street view – an exciting new feature where you can zoom in and see your area of interest as though you were standing upon it. The Google Community writes about various places of interest and posts links, downloadable files, as well as images – this is often denoted by a blue i’.
With Google Earth, the world quite literally becomes your oyster as you can type in any address or place of interest, and be virtually flown there to explore the surroundings. For example, say you have a business meeting in London next week. You know the address, so you type it into the search box located on the left-hand side of the software. You are taken to your meeting place and can see a bird’s eye view of the terrain. By clicking on the different Layers located on the bottom left menu, you can select to see roads, 3D buildings (you would have to tilt your view by clicking on the up arrow located on the navigation compass in the top right corner. Use the down arrow to go back to your initial position.), local places of interest such as cafes, shops, banks, etc. and thus get a general feel for the place before you get there.
Google Version 4.2 and later allows you to view the sky as well as the earth. If you click on the icon that looks like a planet on one of the top menus, it will take you to a constellation view, where you can explore the planets and stars – anything visible by the naked eye or with a medium-range telescope. A new feature to Google Version 4.3 is that you can now see the earth and the movements of the sun, by clicking on the icon showing the sun, located adjacent to the planet icon, then using the time slider to select the particular time of day.
The best way to download Google Earth would be via earth.google.com. A high-speed broadband connection is recommended, since Google Earth is streamed in real-time. The software is free for home and general use, updates itself automatically and does not contain spyware. Google Earth Pro is available for $400, providing comprehensive research for presentations and as a collaboration tool for location-specific information. It is designed to meet the needs of organisations. For a $20 upgrade, Google Earth Plus offers GPS device support, faster performance, the ability to import spreadsheets and higher resolution printing.