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Google Earth arrives for Android

Google Earth finally comes to the Android Marketplace, but only certain Android phones can run it.

Back in January when the Nexus One was unveiled, we got our first glimpse at Google Earth for Android. When the Nexus One officially shipped, I was surprised to learn that the application wasn't loaded on the phone. In fact, there wasn't even a mention of it after the unveiling. I assumed it would arrive at some point on either Android 1.6 or later.

Google Earth for Android
Google Earth for Android Google

Now it's more than a month later and Google finally snuck Google Earth into the Android Marketplace yesterday.

On paper, the Google Earth app sounds fantastic. Not only does it feature the highest resolution (800x480 pixels) seen on a mobile handset to date, it also adds new features like voice search and road layers. I wish I could share firsthand how great the experience is but, sadly, only Nexus One owners can download and take advantage of the new application. Apparently, unless you own a super phone, you're not able to handle Google Earth.

As a T-Mobile G1 owner, I don't ever expect to see this app on my phone. Even if I pretend that my phone gets an update to Android 2.1, I would have to remove a big chunk of applications to make room. Google Earth is 5.7MB to download, which is considerably larger than anything I have on my phone so far. Once extracted and fully installed, it eats up 22MB of precious memory. That's simply not feasible for me as I would rarely use the app.

As to the timing of this release, I'm somewhat confused. It's not like Google Earth was necessarily time-sensitive. At some point, most of today's Android phones will be upgraded to Android 2.1 and capable of handling the app. Google could have waited just a bit longer to push this out and received a much warmer response. If anything, yesterday's release only highlights the fragmentation problems surrounding the platform.