Google Earth Pro now free for all users

There is an old adage that a fool and his money are easily parted.

This is a motto that I follow in my life. I don't mind paying for quality, but I won't open my wallet for nonsense.

With that said, you should always be wary when something is free; another adage is that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

That's not to say that free things can't exist, but there may be strings attached. Today, Google Earth Pro becomes free - are there strings attached?

"Over the last 10 years, businesses, scientists and hobbyists from all over the world have been using Google Earth Pro for everything from planning hikes to placing solar panels on rooftops.

"Google Earth Pro has all the easy-to-use features and detailed imagery of Google Earth, along with advanced tools that help you measure 3D buildings, print high-resolution images for presentations or reports, and record HD movies of your virtual flights around the world", says Stafford Marquardt, product manager, Google Earth Pro.

Marquardt further explains, "starting today, even more people will be able to access Google Earth Pro: we're making it available for free. To see what Earth Pro can do for you - or to just have fun flying around the world - grab a free key and download Earth Pro today. If you're an existing user, your key will continue to work with no changes required".

So what does the Pro version do that the standard version doesn't? Quite a bit, actually. You can see a comparison below.

Print images Screen Resolution only Premium high resolution images
Regionate large datasets ?
Batch geocode addresses ?
Import GIS data ?
Import GIS images Manually Geo-locate Automatically Geo-located
Import large image files Up to max texture size More than max texture size
(Super Image Overlays)
Access demographic, parcel & traffic data layers ?
Create premium movies ?
Measure area of a polygon or circle ?
Map multiple points at once ?
Viewshed tool ?
Map making tool ?

So, are there any strings attached to the offer? As far as I can tell, no. Strangely, you still must obtain a key, even though it is at no charge.

Hopefully Google can do way with this inconvenient step in the future.

If you want to get a free key, you can get one here. The URL indicates that it is a trial, but it is in fact free and without limitations.

Photo Credit: 3d brained / Shutterstock