Google has recently revealed that it is dropping the paid subscription from Google Earth Pro, a more robust version of its Google Earth software. The Pro service will now be available for free, previously costing $399 per year. While the standard version of Google Earth has often been more than enough for casual map and globe users, the Pro version has seen use among professionals from scientists to businesses, who have been able to take advantage of advanced features previously not available for free.
Among the main differences between Google Earth and its Pro sibling are high-resolution imagery and automated geographic location. Pro allows users to print high-res photos, but standard limits printing images to screen resolution. Similarly, Google Earth Pro has the ability to use Super Image Overlays, based on imported image files that are above the max texture size, while the free version limits image files to that max texture size. Also, geographic information system images have to be geo-located manually with Google Earth, but Pro will do so automatically.
The imagery found in Google Earth is the same between the two versions, however Pro has features such as animated movie creation and area measurements that are targeted for businesses. In addition, Google Earth Pro gives access to multi-point mapping, and data layers for demographics and traffic. An example of some of the demographic data available for each U.S. state includes age, current year income, and education.
For those interested in getting started with Google Earth Pro, the software must be downloaded first, then users must request a key to register, which is no longer subscription based. Existing users will have no changes to their accounts, as their currents keys should continue without expiration.