Google's brought a new level of realism to Google Earth, incorporating a more seamless Street View mode and three-dimensional trees.
Street View was partially integrated with Google Earth in 2008, but required the user to click on a camera icon. Now, though, it's possible to zoom in from Google Earth to see Street View images automatically. Streets covered by the service are highlighted blue on the map.
Navigation has also been improved. The orange 'Pegman' icon is now docked next to the navigation controls, and can be picked up and dropped onto a street.
"Unlike our earlier Street View layer, you can now move seamlessly from one location to another as if you’re walking down the street by using the scroll-wheel on your mouse or the arrow keys on your keyboard," says product manager Peter Birch.
"If you want to visit somewhere farther away, simply click the 'exit' button and you’ll immediately return to an aerial view where you can easily fly to your next destination."
Google Earth 6 also now includes 3D versions of dozens of different trees, which can be seen by turning on the 3D buildings layer on the left side panel.
And the company's also made it easier to see historical imagery.
"When you fly to an area where historical imagery is available, the date of the oldest imagery will appear in the status bar at the bottom of the screen. If you click on this date, you’ll instantly be taken back in time to view imagery from that time period," says Birch.
"You can then browse through all the historical imagery available for that location, or simply close the time control and return to the default view."
Google Earth 6.0 is here.