RealTime IT News

More KML And Bits of Google Earth

Google took another step toward its goal to create a "Mirror World" with some improvements to its Google Earth satellite mapping application.

Updates include an increase in its index of high-resolution imagery by four times, the addition of textured buildings, a more streamlined user interface, and new tools that enable the creation and display of third party and user-generated content.

And for the first time, Google has made a version of the application available for Linux operating platforms.

One of the new features it's offering now is called KML for Google Maps. Google said this enables the display of KML files, which is the file format used by Google Earth and other applications to share geographic information.

End result: Data created in Google Earth can be viewed in a Web browser as a simple mash-up; no programming skills required.

The latest features are designed to expand the ways users generate content. After all, Google has always made its money by advertising around user-generated content, typically search results.

Google began testing contextual ads in Google Earth earlier this year.

The latest improvements, such as Google Sketch-up, enable the creation and display of third party and user-generated content. Not only that, it helps give Google Earth users another fix for what CEO Eric Schmidt recently recently called its most successful product of the last year.

Google also announced improvements to its Google Maps application programming interface  and a new enterprise product.

The Google Maps API enables developers of Google Maps-powered mash-ups, or Web sites that merge geographic information with Google Maps, to integrate data based on addresses.

And that's more fodder for the over 30,000 sites tapped into the Maps API already, according to Google.

Also, it's expanding its fee-based licensing and support for businesses wanting to embed Google Maps experience in their Web site or internal applications.

The company has counted over 100 million unique Google Earth downloads. That's a lot of users to generate a lot of content that Google could then build advertising around.