Google Earth 3-D and Other Features
One of the most amazing aspects of Google Earth is the flyover. When you're looking at Atlanta, Ga., and you do a search for "Nepal," you don't just blink and end up in Nepal. The program flies you there, so you can see the terrain and all of the countries beneath you as you make your way to your destination. This video flyover feature is great when it comes to getting driving directions. At the bottom of the screen with your turn-by-turn directions, there's a "play" button. If you click it, Google Earth will fly you over the route, turning right and left and veering as required, so you can see exactly what it's going to look like when you drive it.
Google Earth has created 3-D buildings for many major U.S. cities. For the most part, they're not detailed replicas -- they're simple, gray 3-D drawings -- but you do get a very good feel for the city when you turn on this layer. Google Earth now supports textured (real looking) 3-D drawings. Some are built into the application, but mostly Google is now letting users create and import 3-D drawings themselves using the free Google SketchUp program. As with any other view, you can use the "tilt" and "rotate" buttons in the navigator panel to get the full 3-D view.
Sightseeing Across the Globe
If you haven't had time to travel the globe just yet, Google Earth is your new best friend. You can zoom in on global landmarks just by clicking on a location in the "Sightseeing" box, which lists the most popular destinations, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Arizona's Grand Canyon and Vatican City in Rome.
OK -- video flyovers, 3-D views and sightseeing across the globe are pretty cool, but wait until you see what Google Sky can do.