The latest incarnation of EarthBrowser is in beta testing and looking really interesting. It’s not yet available for public download.
Earth Browser 3 is Flash /Adobe Air based, and in a number of respects will be a genuine alternative to Google Earth, indeed possibly a better classroom tool for studying certain topics, especially weather and tectonics. Here’s a quick preview of how the application is looking at the moment.
EarthBrowser is a delight to use, extremely intuitive and quick in operation. Expanded to full screen on an interactive whiteboard, the virtual globe is stunning. The navigation is hugely enhanced with a neat and attractive draggable menu:
The data sets include comprehensive real time weather information, tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes, webcams and country borders. The Layers panel in Google Earth by comparison is becoming rather unmanageable – try finding the new Earthquakes layer without a guide!
The Placemarks tab adds several other data sets including Aurora Activity. You can also add your own placemarks. I’ve done this in the screenshot below, ading a photo that I took recently in Tromso:
KML files can be opened by dragging them into Earth Browser, and clicking names or flags in the weather window brings up a related Wikipedia search.
The Placemark menu includes the option to open a Google Map that tracks the Earth Browser view when panned. This is an important feature, partly because the Google Map will display a satellite view at resolutions that Earth Browser can’t manage.
I’m very excited about EarthBrowser 3 and will be eagerly awaiting the finished version. The USP for geography teachers is the clean and efficient navigation and essential real-time datasets. I notice that Apple are hosting some useful looking teaching resources for EarthBrowser here.