Google Earth just got faster: Version 5.1 released

Google has just released Google Earth version 5.1.  According to the LatLong blog, the focus of this update was speed.

According to Google:

We’ve made a lot of adjustments under the hood, like improving memory utilization so we can show more buildings, layers, and user content. We improved our shaders (that’s graphics-speak for small programs that run inside your graphics processor) to make the atmosphere draw faster. We also worked to reduce stuttering (known as frame drops) to provide an even smoother experience as you fly around the globe. When we draw imagery, we now use compression technology to use less memory and graphics resources. We know that waiting for a program to start-up can be really frustrating, so we improved our start-up time by 25%. In our Google Earth API (which allows developers to include Google Earth right in their websites), we have made API calls significantly faster, which means that our developers can now do even more.

You can download version 5.1 here.  In addition, the Windows version of 5.1 automatically loads the browser plug-in for those users, which should signifianctly increase the number of users that have the plug-in installed.

Finally! The Google Earth Plug-in now works in Google Chrome

chome-ge-pluginIt was over five months ago that support for Chrome was “coming soon”, and it’s finally here — the Google Earth plug-in now works in Google Chrome.

You likely need the latest version of Chrome for it to work.  To update, just click the wrench icon and choose “About Google Chrome”.  The bottom line of that box will tell you if you’re updated or not.  It updates automatically, so you’re likely in good shape.

So far, so good.  It’s running well.  Now I have one less reason to use Firefox or IE…

Google Chrome and the Google Earth plug-in

As you’ve probably heard, Google released “Chrome” today, their new web browser.  Thus far, I am very impressed with it — it’s amazingly fast.

However, I can’t get it to work with the Google Earth plug-in.  Considering that the browser is based on Webkit, and Safari didn’t yet work with the plug-in, it’s not a big surprise.  Still, it’s kind of sad that Google’s product can’t work in their own browser.

Anyone found a way to make it work yet?

Update: Google confirms that it doesn’t work, but promises an update is “coming soon”.

Update to the Google Earth plug-in coming this week?

Firefox 3 is set to be released tomorrow, and Mozilla is hoping for five million downloads.  My concerns had been two-fold:  Firefox 3 breaks the Google Toolbar and the Google Earth Plug-in.  However, the toolbar has been updated today to work with FF3, but what about the plug-in?

There has been no word from Google about a possible update, so maybe it’s not coming.  However, with Firefox 3 getting rave reviews, I would expect that the adoption rate will be quite high.  I would hate to see the plug-in take a bit step back by suddenly not working on millions of computers…

Another cute game using the Google Earth Plug-in

Here’s another fun game using the Google Earth plug-in, based heavily off of the Monster Milktruck demo.  It has quite a few limitations (the biggest being no altitude adjustment), but it’s another step in the right direction.

The plane simply hugs the ground, and it runs in a pretty small window.  The small window is an attempt to use less bandwidth.  Since the plane can’t stop (or even slow down), the imagery has a hard time keeping up.  The small window helps with that a little bit.

Despite the shortcomings, it’s a fun little app and it has me even more excited about the possibilities for the future.

Google Earth browser plug-in coming today

This sounds great!  Frank Taylor at the Google Earth Blog has just revealed that Google will be releasing a browser plug-in today that will essentially put Google Earth in your browser.

A few notes so far:

  • Windows only, but it should work on IE, Firefox and others.
  • Mac/Linux support coming later.
  • It’s not just Google Earth in a wrapper.  It will likely have fewer features.
  • It does include day/night, 3d models, sky mode and layers.
  • Google Earth will not need to be installed on the machine for the plug-in to work.
  • Current Google Map mashups can use this plug-in with a single line of code.

No link yet (it’s not live), but it should be available later today.

Update: Here it is!  Also, more coverage on the Google LatLong blog and Ogle Earth.