Not exactly new information anymore, but a few weeks ago, Google discontinued Google Earth Plus, their $20/year enhanced version of the free Google Earth program. These enhancements included:
- Enhanced performance – a faster download speed for data.
- Printing – A 40% improvement in printing quality (1400 pixels versus 1000 pixels).
- GPS Data Import (read only) – Download waypoint, track and route data directly into GE from a GPS
- Real-Time GPS Tracking – Put an icon in Google Earth to mark your current position as measured by a connected GPS.
- Spreadsheet data import – Import a .csv file with coordinates into Google Earth, and do address coordinate lookup (geocoding) as well.
- Advertisements – Optional in the Plus version.
One of the very first posts I did on this blog was on Google Earth Plus, but in a bit of foreshadowing, it was titled “Google Earth Plus – Do You Really Need It?”. It kicked off a multipart series describing ways you could duplicate, and even exceed, most of the important capabilities of Google Earth Plus using free or inexpensive software. Even though Google has dropped the Plus version, it’s steering people who need its capabilities to the $400 Pro version, which in addition to spreadsheet import allows opening GIS data like shapefiles and georeferenced imagery. I’ve covered programs that mimic some of those functions, like converting shapefiles to KML format, and creating Google Earth image overlays from georeferenced imagery; I’ll be covering some cheap and free options for creating image superoverlays before too long. And while Google says they will add GPS tracking to the free version of Google Earth in the near future, my Google Earth Plus For Free series covers several options available now, and I’ll have a post with two more options soon. For that matter, just take a look through the Google Earth category on this blog for dozens of useful Google Earth data tools that do things that no version of Google Earth can do, like export KML files to GPS receivers.