Google Earth Blog
[Update: Google have now made an official announcement that Google Earth Pro is free. ]
The biggest Google Earth news this month is that Google Earth Pro is now free. Although there have not as yet been any official announcements from Google, GEB reader ‘AC’ has pointed out that the Google Earth licence support page for languages other than English states that from January 20th, 2015 the licence is free. Although many of the extra features found in Google Earth Pro will only be useful to GIS users, a few features that our readers have expressed interest in using are: the built in movie maker, area and perimeter measurements and the ability to turn off terrain completely.
Google also announced the deprecation of Google Maps Engine, which will be turned off on January 29th, 2016. It is important to note that this is not Google Maps, but another related product that allows you to create your own maps and mapping applications, which is being replaced by alternative solutions available from Google.
Google has continued to roll out 3D imagery, with over 60 new areas or expansions to existing areas being added this month. With lots of hard work by GEB reader Anton Rudolfsson, we updated our map of 3D imagery to include the option to show areas sorted and colour coded according to the date they were first spotted in Google Earth. We are continuing to refine it with suggestions by GEB readers. We also checked the dates that some of the imagery was captured and discovered that Google takes a considerable amount of time to process the 3D imagery prior to releasing it.
Our new colour coded 3D imagery map.
Flying in the monster milk truck, and driving in an A380.
We have in the past shown you how to move Google Earth’s ‘My Places’ from one computer to another. However, if you regularly use Google Earth on more than one computer, it can be useful to sync your ‘My Places’ between the computers. By utilizing a cloud based synchronization service this is now relatively easy to do.
Before trying any of this, remember that modifying the registry incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall Windows. Also, if you have any important placemarks in your ‘My Places’, be sure to back it up first.
The first step is to decide which cloud service to use. We used Microsoft’s One Drive but you can also use others such as Google Drive, Drop Box or iCloud depending on what operating systems your computers have and what your personal preferences are. Ideally, the service you choose should automatically sync a particular folder between your computers.
Instructions for Windows:
Decide which computer has the placemarks you wish to start off with. Google Earth stores your ‘My Places’ as a KML file called ‘myplaces.kml’ typically located in the folder:
Once you have located your ‘myplaces.kml’ file, copy it to a location in your cloud services shared folders and take note of the full path of the folder.
Change the location that Google Earth loads the file from by editing the following registry key and updating it to reflect the new location of the file:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Earth Plus\KMLPath
or in Google Earth Pro
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Earth Pro\KMLPath
On the other computer, just update the registry key without copying the ‘myplaces.kml’ file. If you wish to combine the two ‘My Places’ then you can open your old ‘myplaces.kml’ from the second computer later on in Google Earth and copy the places into your new ‘My Places’.
Setting the KMLPath in the Windows Registry.
For Mac or Linux?
We do not have a Mac or Linux machine to experiment with, but we did find this thread on Google Groups that suggests using symbolic links. Have any of our readers tried this? If you try this, be careful not to include the Google Earth cache, as that is typically quite large (up to 2Gb) and you don’t want that to be synced.
We found with Microsoft’s One Drive that it was necessary to ensure that the ‘myplaces.kml’ was set to be ‘available offline’ on both computers, but other than that we have not experienced any problems with the set up.
You should avoid using Google Earth at the same time on both computers, and allow time for the file to sync before switching computers. The ‘myplaces.kml’ file is read once when you open Google Earth, and then saved when you exit.
Last week we got an email from GEB reader Alan letting us know that Google Earth Pro, which formerly cost US$400 per year, appears to now be free. There has been no official announcement from Google as yet on the subject.
[Update: Google have now officially announced that Google Earth Pro is free. ]
We signed up for Google Earth Pro, and instead of granting us a 7-day trial licence as was formerly the case, we received an email with a licence key clearly stating that it is a free licence. Also, we formerly had a trial key and requested our account infomation. We received an email with our licence key and a stated expiry date of January 20, 2017. Both the above keys work in Google Earth Pro. In addition, links to licence purchasing and renewal pages now redirect to the Google Earth Pro download page.
Before you rush off to download Google Earth Pro, keep in mind that for the vast majority of users it has no significant features that they need. Be sure to check out the feature comparison list here before downloading it. Google Earth Pro suffers from all the same bugs that are found in Google Earth, as it is based on the same code base, so do not expect it to resolve bug related issues you may be having with Google Earth.
Google Earth Pro includes access to demographics, parcel data and daily traffic counts for the United States.
Google Earth Pro includes area and perimeter measurements of polygons, a feature not available in the standard version of Google Earth.
The Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 occurred before GEB started, when Google Earth was still Keyhole Earth. Instead of just looking at ‘before and after’ pictures showing the devastation, it is now possible to see the recovery since then, with the help of Digital Globe imagery and an Esri map titled Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami: Then and Now. It displays Digital Globe imagery from just after the Tsunami and compares it with recent imagery.
Google Earth has some, but not all of the imagery used in the above map, nevertheless it is worth exploring the locations further using Google Earth’s historical imagery. To help you find the locations in Google Earth, download this KML file.
The aircraft seen in the park was there before the Tsunami.
This story was found via Google Maps Mania.
Last week Google sent an email to users of Google Maps Engine notifying them that support for the Google Maps Engine product will end on January 29th, 2016 at which point the product will be deactivated.
The email states:
As an organization, we want to focus our efforts on delivering rich location content via our APIs, and enabling customers to take advantage of the capabilities provided by our Google Cloud Platform products.”
The move should be seen as Google transitioning customers to already existing alternative products, especially Google My Maps (formerly Maps Engine Lite) which has come of age and now has most of the important features of Google Maps Engine. Google goes on to suggest alternatives:
Google has scoped some alternative solutions for some common GME use cases. Please find the following resources on solutions for some particular use cases below (additional options will be added as they are scoped):
- Create a map using Google My Maps
- Building spatial applications with Google Cloud SQL and Google Maps API
- Serving raster layers on Google Cloud Platform
- Building a store locator with the Google Maps API and Cloud SQL”
Here at GEB we have not used Google Maps Engine extensively and would love to hear from our readers which features are not yet available in alternative products that will be missed.
Earlier this week we had a look at how long it takes Google to process and release 3D imagery. For a few locations, we looked at the dates the imagery was captured as well as the dates that it was first discovered in Google Earth.
Now, GEB reader Anton Rudolfsson, who has been assisting us by delineating newly found 3D areas for our KML map, has also taken the trouble of tracking down the dates for the various 3D releases and categorizing all the areas by release date. So as of today, our KML file includes the option to see the areas either categorized by country or by date discovered.
There are three regions that Anton was unable to track down the dates for: Hollister, El Centro and Truckee, all in California. So if any of our readers know approximately when these were first spotted in Google Earth, please let us know in the comments.
Colour coded regions by date discovered – Europe. White is oldest, Red is newest.
Colour coded regions by date discovered – North America. White is oldest, Red is newest.
Although Google have not updated their ‘Latest Google Earth Imagery Updates’ map since the December 17th update, a number of readers have let us know that there have been quite a few areas updated since then.
GEB reader Sladys has also pointed us to the fact that Genoa, Italy has been updated and the Costa Concordia can be seen in the new imagery. Soon after the Costa Concordia disaster happened we showed you satellite imagery of the wrecked cruise ship and not long after we had a look at a stunning 3D Google Earth tour of the disaster created by Peter Olsen.
It took more than two years for the ship to be salvaged and it was towed to Genoa in July 2014. The current image in Google Earth is from September 2nd, 2014. For pictures of the vessel arriving in Genoa see this article. To see the location in Google Earth, download this KML file.
The Costa Concordia docked in Genoa, Italy waiting to be scrapped.
Other places that have updated satellite imagery include:
From GEB reader Sladys:
New York City and Denmark: the island Als from Sonderborg along with the western part of the island of Fyn and up to Fredericia.
From GEB reader Horváth:
New River Lagoon, Belize
The Western half of Chiquinquira, Colombia
From GEB reader André:
Koh Kong – Cambodia 2014-12-29 Lat 11.615871° Long 102.998715°
Mieu Mon – Vietnam 2014-12-17 Lat 20.828134° Long 105.647598°
Hanoi – Vietnam 2014-12-23 Lat 21.038988° Long 105.890052°
Hai Phong – Vietnam 2014-12-30 Lat 20.804957° Long 106.607445°
Bai Thuong – Vietnam 2014-12-30 Lat 19.902632° Long 105.467691°
Nanjing – China 2014-12-29 Lat 31.971838° Long 118.840109°
Namelala – Mozambique 2014-12-29 Lat -14.473656° Long 40.650851°
East of Makurdi – Nigeria 2014-12-31 Lat 7.689083° Long 8.677589°
Ibadan – Nigeria 2014-12-28 Lat 7.359290° Long 3.973806°
Accra – Ghana 2014-12-29 Lat 5.601988° Long -0.169390°
From GEB reader MapMaker:
Some areas in Ukrane
Since September last year we have been keeping track of 3D imagery released by Google, with the help of our readers who spot the imagery and then let us know in the comments of this post. A big thank you to all the GEB readers that have been contributing.
Google Earth does not show imagery dates for 3D imagery. However, it is usually fairly easy to match up 3D imagery with historical imagery in Google Earth to find out what date it was captured. Sometimes the exact same image can be found in historical imagery, but not always. My usual technique for identifying the date is to find a construction site, as they tend to display large scale visible changes over time, and then find the closest matching image in historical imagery. Sometimes there is an exact match, with vehicles and shadows in the exact same place, sometimes there is no equivalent historical imagery and you can only estimate when the 3D imagery was taken. Also keep in mind that the date Google Earth displays for aerial imagery is not guaranteed to be exact
What we have found, for the locations we have looked at, is that Google often takes a year or more between capturing the imagery and releasing it as 3D. In some locations, Google has clearly put a lot of effort into touching up the 3D manually, especially when it comes to bridges, certain historic buildings, some intricate structures and, we believe, even some aeroplanes. However, some of the recent releases have taken a year or two to release, but have no obvious structures that were given special attention. So, we really don’t know what takes so long to process.
The quickest turnaround we have identified so far was the update to New York that was spotted in Google Earth in December, and the imagery appears to be from June last year. Luguano, Switzerland, which was added just a few days ago, seems to be based on imagery from July 2012. For a few of the locations where we have identified imagery dates you can download this KML file.
As with many of the buildings and bridges around London, the flying buttresses and spires of Westminster Abbey must have been manually edited by Google.
An interesting building in Amsterdam shows signs of manual editing. The 3D imagery was released early this year, but captured some time prior to March 2012.
Prompted by our series showcasing uses of the Google Earth plugin, Gary Grimm of Mountain Visions has shared with us some Google Earth tours that they have created. You can find a complete gallery of their tours here which includes a mixture of tours to download and view in Google Earth, tours to watch using the Google Earth plugin, and tours that have been recorded and can be viewed as an online video.
Although we generally prefer to download tours and view them in Google Earth, using the plugin to display tours can have a number of advantages:
- You can place descriptive information in the web page around it, including links to further content – although most of this can be done within the tour.
To some degree it protects your content from copying.
It is easier for the user as they do not have to download the tour and open Google Earth.
Below are some of the best tours from the Mountain Visions collection presented using the Google Earth plugin. To view them using the plugin, you will need the plugin installed and a compatible browser. It may take some time to load the tours, so be patient and wait for the ‘play’ button to appear in the bottom left hand corner of the plugin.
Prince of Wales Island Watershed Restoration Projects, 2006-2011
(or download the KMZ to view it in Google Earth.)
A screenshot from the CuMo mine tour.
This is the seventh in our series showcasing the Google Earth plugin.
Today we are looking at probably the best known app built with the Google Earth plugin: The Monster Milktruck. It was developed in 2008 by Google to showcase the use of the Google Earth plugin. It even has its own Wikipedia page. We looked at it when it first came out. The original version published by Google is broken, because it uses a model from the Sketchup 3D Warehouse, which has since been sold by Google and the URLs have changed. However, we have fixed that bug and resurrected it for your enjoyment. If you have the Google Earth plugin installed and a browser that supports it, you should see the Monster Milktruck game below and be able to play.
MONSTER MILKTRUCK! To drive: use the buttons, or keyboard arrows (with focus on page).
The NUS Library’s use of the plugin is unusual in that they are not using it to display Google Earth imagery at all, but rather utilizing Google Earth’s sophisticated 3D engine to display the interiors of buildings. It doesn’t all work perfectly, but considering the changes in both browsers and the Google Earth API since 2008, that is to be expected. If you have the Google Earth plugin installed, and a browser that supports it, then head on over to their website and have a look around!
Amazingly, you can search for a book and it will show you which shelf it is on!
The Chinese Library. Most locations have popups for more information.
The post Google Earth plugin showcase: National University of Singapore Library appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Over the last few years Digital Globe, one of Google Earth’s main sources of satellite imagery, has been holding a contest for the best satellite image of the year. The winning image for 2012 was of the Burning Man Festival, and the 2013 winner was of Mount Vesuvius.
This year, the wining image is from the Rainbow Range in British Columbia, Canada.To read more about it and see the other top main contenders, see Digital Globe’s blog post.
The image itself is not in Google Earth but you can see it in Google Earth using this image overlay.
Best satellite image of the year, 2014. Find the high resolution image here.
Created by geography teacher Josh Williams, the site allows you to compare two maps side by side with different settings. The maps can be kept in sync, similar to the Street Earth tool we looked at yesterday. For more details about the site and how it got started, see Mickey’s post from 2011.
Although the site has recently been converted to use Google Maps rather than the Google Earth plugin, the plugin version is still available here and Josh tells us that it will continue to be available until December 2015, when Google is planning to end support for the plugin.
Josh also pointed us to the YouTube video below that demonstrates using his site to look at the damage caused by the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma. You can do the same for the tornados we looked at in Monday’s post, although it can be quite difficult to find the correct locations, as the search functionality is not very good. To help you find the locations, copy this url:
then paste it in the ‘Fetch or Go to’ option at the bottom right of the plugin. Then turn on historical imagery in both panes via the ‘Earth Layers’ menus at the top. Next, select appropriate imagery dates for comparison.
The free Street Earth tool helps you to embed three panels on your webpage showing Street View, an overhead map and the Google Earth plugin. The three panels are mostly kept in sync, so you can move your location in any one of them to see the view in the others, although to update the Street View panel you have to drop the yellow man from the maps panel.
You can see it in action below. Note: you will need to have the Google Earth plugin installed, a browser that supports it, and for some browsers you may have to allow the plugin to run on this page.
We recently came across this article featuring Google Earth imagery showing the town of Pilger, Nebraska, before and after a tornado. After a bit of research, it appears that the newly added image is from October 14th, 2014 and shows the town in the early stages of reconstruction. There are, however, images in Google Earth’s historical imagery that show the town just days after the tornado hit. It also turns out that the tornado that hit Pilger was just one of an outbreak of tornadoes from June 16-18 of 77 tornadoes that caused two fatalities, numerous injuries and widespread damage over several states.
Looking around in Google Earth’s historical imagery we discovered more images from soon after the tornados, including some showing tornado damage in the town of Wessington Springs, South Dakota. In addition, there is also imagery from Madison, Wisconsin which was also struck by a tornado, but we were unable to identify any tornado damage.
Pilger in September 2011.
Pilger on June 21st, 2014, just days after the tornado
Pilger on October 14th 2014, showing the debris has been cleared.
Wessington Springs on June 21st, 2014
You can see some footage of the tornado from security cameras in this news report and from a distance in this YouTube video, and in depth analysis of the tornado here. It is also worth having a look at the Street View in Pilger, which is from August 2012 and gives an idea of what buildings were destroyed.
To view the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth, download this KML file
See here for past articles about the destruction caused by tornados seen in Google Earth.
This is the third in a series of posts showcasing the Google Earth plugin as both a farewell to the plugin, which was deprecated last month, and as a hint to Google to consider working on a replacement if they aren’t already.
Yesterday we looked at GEFS Online, a flight simulator with a variety of aircraft, including a balloon. Today we are looking at a more specialized simulator: a paragliding simulator.
We first looked at Paragliding Earth back in October, 2008. The site is still running and the simulator still working well, although there seems to be a problem with the map used for locating sites not zooming in. The site is designed to allow paragliding enthusiasts to share information about paragliding sites all over the world and has a wealth of information available.
Coming in to land. Finding a site with 3D imagery took a while, but it was worth it!
The post Google Earth plugin showcase: Paragliding simulator appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
This is the second in a series of posts showcasing the Google Earth plugin.
Today we are looking at the unofficial Google Earth flight simulator known as GEFS Online. Google Earth has a built-in flight simulator that you can learn how to use here. GEFS Online expands on the idea with a number of significant features not available in the built-in version. These features include, amongst many others:
- A better looking onscreen instrument panel, with more instruments than are found in the Google Earth version.
A wide range of aircraft, including helicopters and a balloon, as opposed to the two aircraft available in Google Earth.
Dynamic suspension on the aircraft.
A wider range of controls that are also customizable.
Multiplayer mode, allowing you to see other players’ aircraft, as well a chat.
A global map showing airports and other players.
Engine sound effects.
Flying over Sion, Switzerland, which recently received 3D imagery.
The map shows airport locations and basic stats, as well as the location of other online players.
This is the first in a series of posts we will be doing to showcase various uses of the Google Earth plugin. We are doing this as a farewell to the Google Earth plugin, which was deprecated in December.
First up is Rally Navigator. This is a website that helps you create printable rally navigation instructions called roadbooks. We first looked at it back in February 2013 when it was still an open beta and then again in October 2013 when a premium version with new features was released. The basic version is still free.
Rally navigator lets you set up your route in the Google Earth plugin and then create a printable roadbook for the route.
See this YouTube video for more:
Rally navigator was developed by Paul van Dinther, whose other work we have looked at in the past, such as Ships, his Google Earth plugin ship navigation simulator that he is in the process of updating to a Google Maps based version.
In June last year Google acquired Skybox Imaging. So far they have launched two imaging satellites, but plan to launch many more.
We have had a look at some of their early images, such as the animated gifs of Burning Man created from images captured during the festival.
We also had a look at the Skybox for Good program that collects satellite imagery for selected non-profits.
Skybox has posted on their site a satellite image showing the Poppy display at the Tower of London that took place in November last year to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Satellite image of the Tower of London showing the moat filled with red ceramic poppies. See the full image on the Skybox website.
We have been hoping to see Skybox imagery making its way into Google Earth’s imagery, but we are not aware of this happening yet. It may be that Google has decided not to use Skybox imagery for Google Earth because the imagery is not as high resolution as other providers, such as Digital Globe.
The post Skybox captures Tower of London poppies from space appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
One of our biggest stories of December was the problems with Google Earth search that were caused by an update to the way search results were displayed, a change Google made in late November. Google fixed most of the problems within a couple of weeks. It was evident from the comments that many people use the Google Earth “Get Directions” feature to measure driving distances between locations, which has become very useful for many businesses.
December also saw Google announce the long expected official deprecation of the Google Earth plugin. It will continue to work (in supported browsers) until December 12th, 2015.
December also saw the continued addition of 3D areas and we had a look at Black Rock City, New York and San Francisco. The two later locations received an update to their 3D that is of better quality than what they had previously. It was noted by readers that entering Street View in some parts of New York and San Francisco causes Google Earth to crash. Since then many GEB readers have reported similar crashes with Street View in a number of other cities around the world.
When looking around San Francisco, we discovered that Google Earth sometimes shows different 3D images depending on the zoom level.
For Christmas, we had a look at the Santa trackers and were a bit disappointed that neither tracker allowed us to track Santa in Google Earth.
We also showed you a model of Santa’s village in Google Earth, created with inspiration from the Santa trackers