Google Earth Alights on the Motorola Droid with Android 2.1
Google April 7 made Google Earth available for the Motorola Droid, allowing users of that phone from Verizon Wireless to access the same quality of 3D images and terrain they can access from the desktop version of the application.
Google first launched Google Earth for the Nexus One, which is based on the Android 2.1 operating system, in February.
Motorola and Verizon began pushing Android 2.1 out to the Droid March 30, bringing the latest Android software features to users after several delays that exasperated users who felt left behind with their Android 2.0-based Droid.
The upgrade paves the way for Google Earth on the Droid, allowing users to virtually traverse the globe with Google Gesture Search, or to search Earth by speaking into the smartphone with Android 2.1's voice-to-text input feature.
"Moreover, Android's voice recognition together with Google Local Search make it easy for you to search for cities, places and businesses anywhere in the world. You can also browse layers of geographic information including roads, borders, Panoramio photos and more," Google Product Manager Peter Birch said.
Find Google Earth by navigating m.google.com/earth from the Droid's browser or in the Android Market.
Google Earth for Android is compatible with most Android devices running 2.1. But Google Earth requires hardware floating-point acceleration, so it will run on devices such as Droid and Nexus One, but not on devices such as the HTC myTouch 3G and HTC's Droid.
This is great news for Droid owners, but it's still another sign of the vast fragmentation issues plaguing the Android platform, for which there are four viable operating systems, Android 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1. This forces users to wonder what software and apps they will be able to use for their particular device.
Google is reportedly mulling the idea of putting such upgrades in the Android Market for users to grab instead of putting the onus on the mobile network operator (Verizon for the Droid and handset maker Motorola).