New Google Earth 4 Beta features, including timeline!

A few days late in blogging this, mostly because Ive been coming up with uses for the new features that we can offer our clients. Googles latest release of Google Earth 4 Beta offers some great new inovative features:

  • Timelines - allowing points, images and 3d models to be shown with timestamps and viewed using a sliding timeline bar
  • Support for web mapping service (WMS) - an existing standard for queries bitmap maps (see Ogle Earth for what is actually does)
  • Support for HI-Defininiation (HDTV) video output (pro version only)
There are a few other updates but these are the main ones that are exciting to Google Earth developers, especially the timeline feature.There are allready a few examples of what the timeline feature could be used for, here is one showing a building changing over many years and another that shows a car journey and photos from the windscreen view over the duration of the journey.

The real question is what other applications the timeline feature it could be used for, here at Earthware we are looking at demos to show:

  • Building projects in phases so you can move the timeline and show how the project will progress
  • Cruises and tours so the user can see where the tour/ship will be at different times during the cruise/tour and see relevant photos and information to each location.
  • Sporting events and races - showing progress over time
  • Documenting adventures and journeys in Google Earth
The timeline control is a little complex at the moment and I hope they tweak it a little for the final version, but the possibilities for time and animation certainly make a interesting challenge.

The video update is also interesting especially since the recent publicity British Airways has recieved for its new TV advert showing Google Earth footage. It was amusing to see everyone blog how amazing it was, when the the video output feature has been available for months, its just British Airways were the first large company to actually use it in an advert. HI-Definition can only help it be used more often for media projects.

It is unfortunate, with the Google Earth team being so innovative recently, that the Google Maps team don't seem to have really done anything special recently especially when compared to the recent new Virtual Earth developments.