A pre-release version of Google Earth for the Mac OS was leaked onto the internet late last week. Given how tightlipped Google has been about progress on the Mac version, it appears the Mac release is near completion.
Since many Mac users have never seen the free satellite map imaging tool that Google calls Google Earth, and since the leaked version has virtually disappeared, those of us here at Maclive.net thought it might be useful to provide a brief inside look at the product. Up until now, the product was only available for Windows.
As you navigate the globe in Google Earth, the software moves almost seamlessly between assorted satellite images. For example, as you zoom in on a location, you will see the map detail change in near real time. This is because the software is actually pulling additional map information from the internet as you work. The small Streaming readout across the bottom of the map indicates the download progress. This means it is essential to have a broadband connection in order to use Google Earth. Once the Streaming indicator reaches 100% you can be sure you are seeing the map in full detail. It is worth mentioning that less populated rural areas are often shown at lower resolution while greater detail is often available in city or scenic locations.
As you pan from location to location, the software will try to pull map information as quickly as possible. The demo video below shows an example of how Google Earth can circumnavigate the globe and show detailed maps of virtually any location on the planet. Note the Streaming indicator at the bottom center of the screen. In this sample video, we didn’t necessarily wait for all available map information to download before moving on to the next destination. This is especially evident in the city view where the ground level detail comes into focus only right before the camera moves on to its next destination.
Google Earth offers a number of additional layers that can be added to any location. For example, you can overlay street names on the satellite view. Additionally, you can overlay numerous points of interest, census information, even 3D structures in some locations.
Thanks to the leaking of this pre-release version, Mac users finally have their first look at Google Earth. Check back with us at Maclive.net as we take a closer look at the product when it is publicly released.
Update: 12/11/05 @ 2:34pm
Some people are having luck grabbing a copy from this link. It’s slow, but grab it while you can!
Update: 12/14/05 @ 7:55am
It looks like that last download location has been taken down, so here’s a new one.
Update: 12/19/05 @ 1:18pm
All the download links have finally dried up. If you find a valid link, please post it in the comments below.