From Space to Street in Google Earth

While there is always hope, we have to accept that the vast majority of GeeksAreSexy readers will never travel from space to their own street in a single smooth journey. But Google is offering the next best thing.

In the current edition of Google Earth, its possible to zoom in so close that you move from seeing the entire planet (well, as much as you can see of a globe) to an aerial view of a particular building. If nothing else, it’s great fun imagining you are using a live feed and operating a spy satellite.

But in the newly released edition, Google Earth 6, you’ll be able to switch seamlessly between the 3D bird’s-eye view of Google Earth and the pedestrian-eye view of Street View. That’s done by having the Street View icon (who turns out to be named Pegman) included with the traditional Google Earth controls.

Unlike the main maps feature, the Street View accessed in this way also allows users to “walk” back and forth on a street simply by rolling the scroll-wheel on their mouse, or using the arrow keys.

There are a couple of other changes to the system. Google has begun adding 3D models of specific species of tree wherever appropriate. It’s also making it clearer where historical imagery is available for a location: if you see a date at the bottom of the screen, you can click on it to bring up a timeline slider to see how the area has changed over time.

Of course, this is all very impressive, but I’m still waiting for Google to announce that Street View is being used for its most obvious purpose: as the mother of all plugins for the Grand Theft Auto engine.

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