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Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Google Offers its Mapping Application For Free

Google has renamed its Keyhole 2 LT mapping application Google Earth, added several features to it and made it a free download, the company announced Tuesday.

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 $29.95 for a one-year license, said John Hanke, Keyhole general manager.

Moreover, Google Earth is integrated with Google's local index of U.S., U.K. and Canada business listings, which means it can mark on a map the location of all sorts 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.

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