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Monday, February 9, 2015

Google Earth Pro is now Free

Google Earth Pro Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET
As reported by C/NET: Google Earth has been around for years, yet it still makes my jaw drop.

I mean, seriously, for centuries the only way to get a "bird's-eye" view of our planet was to spin an actual globe. Now we can "fly" to any location and zoom all the way in from space to a couple hundred feet above real, satellite-mapped ground.

Most amazing of all, Google made this tool available for free. This despite an educational -- and, let's be honest, entertainment -- value that's virtually impossible to measure.

What you maybe didn't know is that Google has long offered a Pro version of Earth as well, one that cost a hefty $399 per year. Now, however, you can get Google Earth Pro absolutely free.

First things first: The words "free trial" still appear in that URL, but as you'll see when you click through to the sign-up page, "Sign up is no longer required for Google Earth Pro." All you have to do is download the installer, run it, then sign in using your e-mail address (as your username) and license code GEPFREE.

Second things second: Do you really need this? Probably not, as Pro was created with business/enterprise users in mind -- but it does afford some pretty cool extras not found in the free version, including:
  • Advanced measurements: Measure parking lots and land developments with polygon area measure, or determine affected radius with circle measure.
  • High-resolution printing: Print images up to 4,800 x 3,200 pixel resolution.
  • Exclusive pro data layers: Demographics, parcels, and traffic count.
  • Spreadsheet import: Ingest up to 2,500 addresses at a time, assigning place marks and style templates in bulk.
  • Movie-Maker: Export Windows Media and QuickTime HD movies, up to 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution.
So, yeah, you could print ultra-high-resolution images of, say, your neighborhood. (The free version tops out at 1,000 pixels.) Or add high-def fly-over videos to your movies. Pretty sweet stuff.

And don't overlook the huge thrill of scoring a $400 product for free. That's always fun.