In the escalating war over the planet Earth between Google and Microsoft, Google has opened up Google Earth for development.
Google points to the rise of the Geoweb, a collection of user-generated content (UGCe.g. photos, videos) associated with a location.
The Google Maps API, with over 150,000 developer sites, and the Google Earth client, with over 400 million downloads, promise to help users visualize this Geoweb of content.
Key features from the Google Earth team:
• Embed Google Earth inside any web page with only a few lines of code.
• Manipulate KML and the 3D environment: create polygons, lines, placemarks, and more.
• Convert your existing Google Maps API site to 3D with as little as one line of code.
• View the thousands of existing 3D buildings, or add your own 3D models.
• Switch to Google Sky mode for high-res imagery of stars, planets, and galaxies.
Google has yet to launch a desktop telescope to keep pace with Microsoft but opening up the API should yield some innovative applications.