Google Earth 4.3 thoughts, screenshots and a video

Google Earth 4.3 is just starting to become available. You probably won’t find it through the normal pages yet, but the Google Earth Blog found a clever loophole to allow you to get it now — simply visit this page and you can grab it.

My initial thoughts:

StreetView is neat, but not very useful. The version on Google Maps feels much smoother and easier to use.

The sunlight feature is very cool! Terrain and buildings look different as the day progresses and the light hits them from different angles. Terrain also casts shadows, though 3D buildings do not. Here is a short video showing some areas transitioning from day to night:

As expected, the 3D buildings load much better. Also, there are a whole lot more of them in many cities. It appears that some are auto-generated, but Google hasn’t confirmed that yet. I’m of the personal opinion that they automatically generate some, but then hand-tweak each of them, but that may or may not be accurate.  Google Earth Blog weighs in on this as well.

Also, many cities now have a bunch more 3D buildings in them. According to the Google Earth Blog, San Francisco, Baltimore, Raleigh, Charlotte and Phoenix are some of the cities with new buildings. I can confirm that Atlanta has new ones as well.

In particular, Turner Field (home of the Atlanta Braves) finally looks good. I was at a game a few days ago and took a picture with my cell phone (N95 rocks!). Here is a comparison of that photo to a similar view in Google Earth 4.3 and Virtual Earth:

It’s worth mentioning that Turner Field in Virtual Earth is still a “1.0″ building, so it’s likely to improve once Atlanta is updated. Also, I still can’t get over how cool the trees look in Virtual Earth. That being said, the stadium looks way better in Google Earth. It’s not even close.

Here are a few more screens I grabbed:

Have you tried it yet? What do you think?