By Gabriel McDaniel

Launched on June 11, 2001, Google Earth had come as an intriguing new idea to the world. Google Earth Pro is a downloadable application that on release was $399 but is now free and available for all computers able to run it. But, what is Google Earth, and is it worth a download?

Google Earth is a computer application referred to as a “geographic browser” that allows you to digitally fly wherever you want in the world and in some cases access the street view feature also created by Google. It uses aerial photography to form a 3D simulation with the images. The images are updated, but some are more frequently updated than others, such as big cities like New York, Tokyo, and London, which are updated more than once in a year. Generally, Google will update their entire digital globe every few years to match what the Earth looks like in the present. Google Earth may seem like a more upgraded version of Google Maps, but while they have their similarities, they are also very different.

Google Maps actually can zoom out to a global view of the Earth, and for a split second it looks very much like Google Earth, but it’s far from it. Google Earth uses complete satellite images and much more sophisticated technology. Google Maps, on the other hand, uses much fewer satellite images and contains many more navigational features paired with a more simplistic interface. Google Maps is more about getting to where you want to go with pinpoints and the information of the locations, but Google Earth is about getting to explore the world and getting lost in it. Google Earth is about the view of the world without pinpoints, without a limit, and it is all about exploring the world with 3D images. Both applications will allow you to go into Google Street View as well, depending on the location.

In the end, Google Earth is the more sophisticated version. You can get tours of grand places such as the Great Wall of China with Keyhole Markup Language files that allow you to visit one place and spend time taking a tour. Google Earth provides so much power to its users, and it holds so much information that it can keep anyone entranced in just how large the world is, which shows just how incredible this application is.