Google provides two similar products, Google Earth and Google Maps, that use satellite imagery to give Internet users a bird's-eye view of the world around them. These free applications are powerful tools for those seeking to visualize the Earth. However, some basic differences exist between the two.
The most basic difference between Google Earth and Google Maps is that while Google Maps may be accessed via a web browser, Google Earth is a program that must be downloaded and installed on the user's hard drive. Both require Internet access.
One of the features that distinguishes Google Earth from other visualization software, including Google Maps, is the 3D visualization of certain cities, buildings and natural landmarks. Except for "street view," which allows users to scan certain areas as if they were at street level, Google Maps is limited to a two-dimensional visual experience.
Google Earth allows users to go beyond the planet and explore the surface of the moon and Mars. Google Maps lacks this feature.
Google Earth is designed to give users a majestic flyover visual experience as they navigate from point to point. Google Maps does not have this feature and is oriented more toward conveying information than depicting the world in a visually stimulating manner.
Because of its unique visual aspects, Google Earth is often used for entertainment. Google Maps is more often used for utilitarian purposes such as locating buildings or obtaining driving directions.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Delcio GP Filho
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