There was a time when Microsoft promoted a concept called Windows Everywhere. Basically, they wanted Windows to run on every computing device from servers to PCs to handheld to mini-netbooks.
Windows Server, Windows, Windows CE, Windows Mobile (CE), and so on. That never worked out but Google was paying attention. Here in the 21st century it’s become Google everywhere, and on a far grander scale than anything Microsoft ever dreamed.
What Is Google?
Besides being a very wealthy company with a fabulous brand name, what is Google really know for?
Search engine. And advertising. That’s their bread and butter. But Google is so rich they can afford to be everywhere else, too.
I won’t hit on all the places where Google lives, but you’ll get the idea rather quickly from this Google Link Fest™.
Google is everywhere, Mac or Windows, with every kind of utility that users want and need and use, nearly all are free, and 95-percent of those tools are financed by Google’s dominance as the most used search engine.
What’s In It For Mac Users?
Google is generally friendly to Mac users, so much of what works fine on Windows works reasonably well on Macs. YouTube does run on the iPhone without Flash.
Google’s Chrome web browser is available on Windows and now on Macs (continuing a tradition started by Adobe of rolling out Mac versions later than Windows versions).
Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt was an Apple board member for many years, until being booted off after it became obvious that Google didn’t mind pulling a Microsoft and stealing ideas and business models from Apple.
My Google rant takes an abrupt turn at Google Earth, the wonderful satellite view of the planet, now at version 5.1.3533.1731. I know. I don’t know why they have that numbering scheme either.
Google Earth is everywhere, too. And to the point where some governments on the earth have asked the company to blur out certain geographical locations to obscure secret or sensitive buildings (want to know where the secrets are? Look for the blurs).
The nearly 80 megabytes of Google Earth is a delightful wonder, which lets Mac users explore satellite imagery, maps, terrain, buildings, and more with little more than a few clicks.
Google Earth works in concert with Google Search. On a fast Mac, you can zoom from one location to another anywhere on the planet in seconds, save the searches and locations.
The only negative, of course, is that the view is always from a satellite. Mostly. Google Earth also does tilt and rotations so you can see terrain and buildings in three dimensions, but that feature is not ubiquitous.
The latest version (5) also provides historical imagery, as well as ocean floor and surface data. Google provides an Earth Pro version for $400, as well as an Enterprise version. In most cases, those wonderful satellite views of the planet you see on the evening news come from Google.
The Ocean Layer is more than interesting, it’s captivating. Dive all the way to the ocean floor (not as well mapped as the earth’s surface, though) with integrated content from BBC and National Geographic.
Does global warming leave you sleepless? Google Earth will let you view the melting ice caps, coastal erosion, and the urban and industrial sprawl that made it all happen.
The Browser Plug-in & Little Extras, & iPhone
As if an 80-megabyte desktop application wasn’t enough, there’s also a plug-in for your Browser.
While it’s much the same as the app, the plug-in works within a window of your Mac’s browser. So long as your Mac is not running Safari on Snow Leopard. That’s not ready for prime time just yet.
Extras? How about a Mars Layer, including recent images from NASA and interactive audio tour. Can you name a Martian landmark? You will after using Google Earth.
The Tilt, Zoom, and Rotate functions have limitations, of course. There’s not much tilting unless you’re in a major city, which seem to have sharper images than small towns out in the boonies.
With the right Mac you can even record your tours of the earth as a movie, which can be shared with others or embedded into a web site.
Not only is Google Earth useful for educators and businesses, it’s just downright fun. Who hasn’t checked out their own home or office building in Earth? I swear I can see my father mowing the lawn of his little estate in suburban Atlanta.
iPhone users rejoice. There’s a decent, albeit much slower, version of Google Earth for the iPhone. As with so many of Google’s products, it’s free, too. Remember, advertising pays the freight for the rich and varied utilities from Google. I try to remember that and click on one of their ubiquitous web commercials from time to time.
If you’ve never tried Google Earth, do so now. Version 5.x is loaded with extras that can help you wile away your time in totally fun but unproductive ways.