Google Earth 4.3

Get the latest version of Google Earth which has added features that make it a necessity for those whose topographic desires are more serious. Version 4.3 adds day and night lighting, Street View, more 3D models, and faster rendering speeds.

Most of the interface’s real estate displays a rendering of the globe, which slowly zooms in on a satellite image of your destination once you’ve keyed it in. The control panel has changed again, but the real draw is the addition of Street View, an on-the-ground 360-degree look at the premises that users may recognize from Google Maps. Also gracing the virtual globe is an option to illuminate it in real-time.

Everything from roads and restaurants to crime statistics can be displayed; subcategories and individual items can be unchecked to show only what you need. Google’s driving directions are incorporated, and the user community has produced several nifty mods, including historical maps. There’s also integration with Google’s 3D rendering program SketchUp, which you can use to place buildings and other ornamentation in a real-life setting.

The only downside to the program is that it can consume a large amount of RAM.