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Better GPS graphs, browser in new Google Earth

Clicking on a link within the Google Earth application will now open an embedded browser window instead of launching a separate browser, and GPS users can see more data.

Google Earth
Google Earth users can now see the elevation and speed they covered during a recent trip.

Google made a few tweaks to Google Earth on Monday, adding new GPS details and a way for the Web-oriented company to feel better about developing for the desktop.

Google Earth 5.2 is ready for the public, Google announced Monday. It's not a major release like the Google Earth 5.0 release from last year, but the free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux has a few interesting new features for the geographically obsessed.

Travelers were able to connect their GPS devices to Google Earth to view trip data with the 5.0 release, but they can now see altitude changes and the average speed of their trip in graphs accompanying the route. And if you've forgotten the experience already, you can generate a video of the route.

Perhaps more interesting is the addition of an embedded browser into the application. Switching between Google Earth and your regular browser isn't that difficult, but Google Earth users won't even have to leave the application now when clicking on a link within Google Earth.

Google's reason for being these days--other than Internet search--is to encourage the development of Web-based software and to lead by example. Some things you still can't quite do in the browser, hence sophisticated applications like Google Earth. But Google is likely to move more and more of the Google Earth features into the browser-based Google Maps application, as it started doing in April by adding a 3D earth view into Google Maps.