GoogleMaps is very cool - and an excellent tool for mash-ups such as WalkJogRun. Of course, just for fun, Google also added imagery for the Moon and for Mars. Which is pretty neat - particularly for those of us who teach. Or pretty much anyone who likes to think.
But GoogleEarth has always been much more impressive. The third dimension, and the software's capability as a layered browser - means that GoogleEarth has the potential to do so much more - perhaps even become the VirtualWorld that everyone is really waiting for.
Recently GoogleEarth acquired the functionality to overlay buildings and other architectural features. Including the ability to overlay historical data - such as Ancient Greece. Or London before the Great Fire of 1666.
More recently still, Google added Google Sky, which lets us look upwards and outwards to the stars.
And now - albeit without any fanfare - they've added a Flight Simulator.
I've put a taster of the Flight Simulator - and an appropriate link - just at the bottom of this text. But what I actually want to write about is the next steps that we may yet see from GoogleEarth.
Because this is very nearly the Universal Explorer that will allow us to ride around the Battle of Waterloo, to float around the Barrier Reef, to reach to the outer edge of the Solar System, to wander the streets of Ancient Rome and to swim around the inside of the human circulation.
And I'm guessing that Google will have a whole heap of Engineers who recognise all those touchstones.
Flight Simulator Keyboard Controls
This document describes the various keyboard combinations that you can use with the flight simulator features of Google Earth. Ensure you have the latest version of GoogleEarth (v4.2 or higher). Click somewhere on the main image of the software. Now press Cmnd-Option-A on a Mac (Ctrl-Alt-A on a PC) to enter the flight simulator mode. Once you have entered flight simulator mode for the first time, you can re-enter the mode by choosing Tools > Enter Flight Simulator.
To leave flight simulator mode, click Exit Flight Simulator in the top right corner or toggle out of the mode by again selecting Cmnd-Option-A on a Mac (Ctrl-Alt-A on a PC).