Google has announced Google Earth 5.2 for the PC and 3 for iOS with native iPad support. There are many changes, detailed here, for 5.2 — the biggest of which is probably the ability to open a browser within Google Earth.
You can click a button on the top nav and a full browser slides in (see below). Anything that you would then do in a browser can be done within Google Earth. This adds convenience and utility and truly makes good on the “geo-browser” concept.
Google simultaneously updated the mobile version of Earth for iOS and added a native iPad version. I’ve never found Google Earth on the iPhone to be that useful an app on a daily basis, though I’m sure there are some who do. It’s much more a novelty in my mind and there are many other apps/tools that provide local information more quickly, including Google Maps and Google.com.
Simultaneously the PC version of Google Earth is really a professional and power-user tool. The browser inclusion will make it more “useful.” But for ordinary folks conducting travel or local searches, again, Google Maps or Google.com are faster and easier.
That brings me to the iPad version of Earth.
I think the iPad version of Earth is the most “useful” of the bunch. For the non-pro user it takes Earth out of the realm of gee-whiz novelty and makes it a potential daily use tool.
iPad Earth combines the streamlined simplicity of the mobile Earth version with the greater screen real estate of the PC version, which makes a considerable difference. The ability to touch the screen and manipulate the perspective and zoom is terrific and the speed of the iPad makes Earth a much better rival to Google Maps and other local/travel apps.
Here are some screens:
Finally I have a feature suggestion for both the Google Earth mobile app and the new iPad version: voice search. While I don’t know how technically challenging that would be it certainly would be useful and boost engagement with both.