Google has renamed its Keyhole 2 LT mapping application Google Earth, added several features to it and made it a free download.
Like its predecessor, Google Earth is a PC-based application that uses satellite images to render maps, but it is available for free whereas Keyhole 2 LT cost US$29.95 for a one-year licence, said John Hanke, Keyhole general manager.
Moreover, Google Earth is integrated with Google's index of US, UK and Canada business listings, which means it can mark on a map the location of businesses such as restaurants, bars, pharmacies and banks, a feature not available in Keyhole 2 LT.
Another new feature in Google Earth is its ability to deliver driving directions and overlay the route on the map. Unlike Keyhole 2 LT, Google Earth also has a "playback" feature that "drives" the user along the route on the map.
A version called Google Earth Plus has additional features such as data import and annotation capabilities and costs $20 per year. For business use, there is Google Earth Pro, which costs $400 per year, a price reduction from the comparable Keyhole product which cost $599 per year.
Google Earth currently runs only on Windows 2000 and Windows XP.