For 11 years, Google Earth has allowed anyone with a fast Internet connection to explore the world from their desk. Without having to step foot on a plane, you can see the dizzying skyscrapers of Manhattan, marvel at the reddish splendor of Uluru, or even take a trip to space, all for free.
It’s not all that surprising that Google Earth is one of Mountain View’s most loved products. But most didn’t know that there was another version of Google Earth called Google Earth Pro, which is now free.
The Pro version used to cost an eye-watering $400, and comes with some amazing exclusive features. Here are four you probably should check out.
Go On A Tour (And Show Your Friends)
Google Earth Pro lets you explore the stars, as well as the terrestrial world. But you probably already knew that. But did you know you can record and share journeys made with Google Earth Pro?
The Pro version makes it really trivial to record a journey (in Google Earth Pro parlance, a ‘tour’), be it in street view, or otherwise. Once you’ve made your recording, you can share it online. Tours are stored in KML (Keyhole Markup Language) and KMZ (Keyhole Markup Zip) files, which can only really be opened with Google Earth, and a handful of other specialized applications, such as the open source Google Earth alternative, Marble.
The advantage of distributing as KML is that it is possible to edit them at a later point. But should you wish, Google Earth Pro also comes with the ability to produce a video file for later sharing on Youtube, or any other video sharing site. It can even produce ludicrously detailed HD-quality movies, although lacks the ability to produce 4K video. Here’s one I made earlier.
Find Out More About The World
Does Nebraska have a larger voter turnout rate than Alabama? Are there more Fair Trade farms in Sierra Leone than in Rwanda? Do more people live in Los Angeles than in San Francisco? If you’ve ever pondered these questions, you’ll love Google Earth Pro, which comes a number of additional datasets relating to demography and geography that are exclusive to the premium version of the app.
And if you’re a budding geographer or sociologist yourself, you can even create your own datasets and import them into Google Earth Pro, including the ability to map up to 2500 addresses from an XML file. My colleague Angela Alcorn has run through this in the past.
Of course, if you’re working with open cartographic data, and you want something that’s easier to publish and share, you might want to consider using ScraperWiki.
Find Out How Bad The Traffic Is In Your Neighborhood
The free version of Google Earth makes it simple to visualize the world with ‘layers’, where data is superimposed onto the world. Handy, right?
Well, Google Earth Pro takes this to the next level, with even more layers to work with, including historical traffic data. It’s not quite the real-time data that’s available on the Android version of Google Maps, but it’s certainly handy if you’re moving into a new house and want to work out your odds of showing up to work late every day.
Solve Property Disputes
If you’ve ever been involved in a property dispute, you’ll know how acrimonious they can get. They’re rough. Thankfully, there’s an all-seeing arbiter for these disputes. It’s called parcel data, and it definitively defines property boundaries.
This data is usually quite hard (and expensive) to get hold of, but not any more. Google Earth Pro comes with this parcel data, making it possible to find out who owns what land. Furthermore, each property parcel comes with a unique ID andGoogle Earth Pro natively supports searching by these IDs from within its built-in search function.
Fantastic? You bet, but hardly surprising given that Google Earth Pro is a premium product.
Google Earth Pro comes with a number of handy advantages over the free version, including the ability to print ultra-high resolution images and a feature that allows you to measure and superimpose your own 3D building mock-ups. But let’s not forget that the free version of Google Earth comes with some pretty amazing features too, all of which are present in this version.
Features like the ability to look at historical satellite data. Ever wanted to look at New York in 1978? Now you can.
Google Earth also comes with a number of impressive datasets, including those produced by charities, companies and non-governmental organizations. One of these is by environmental pressure group Greenpeace, which allows you to map ecological destruction worldwide.
Finally, if so inclined, you can sit back and simply gaze at the splendor of the known universe.
Over To You
Have you downloaded Google Earth Pro yet? Found anything awesome?
Tell us about it in the comments section below!