The New Google Earth 6.2

We’re taking bird’s eye view to a whole new level with the latest version of Google Earth, released today. With Google Earth 6.2, we’re bringing you the most beautiful Google Earth yet, with more seamless imagery and a new search interface. Additionally, we’ve introduced a feature that enables you to share an image from within Google Earth, so you can now simply and easily share your virtual adventures with family and friends on Google+.

A seamless globe

The Google Earth globe is made from a mosaic of satellite and aerial photographs taken on different dates and under different lighting and weather conditions. Because of this variance, views of the Earth from high altitude can sometimes appear patchy.

Today, we’re introducing a new way of rendering imagery that smoothes out this quilt of images. The end result is a beautiful new Earth-viewing experience that preserves the unique textures of the world’s most defining geographic landscapes—without the quilt effect. This change is being made on both mobile and desktop versions of Google Earth. While this change will appear on all versions of Google Earth, the 6.2 release provides the best viewing experience for this new data.

Grand Canyon before and after

Sri Lanka before and after

Share your explorations with Google+

Google Earth is a great way to virtually explore the globe, whether revisiting old haunts or checking out a future vacation spot. With the Google Earth 6.2 update, we’ve added the option to share a screenshot of your current view in Google Earth through Google+. If you’ve already upgraded to Google+, you can share images of the places you’ve virtually traveled to with your Circles, such as family, friends or your local hiking club. To try this new feature, simply sign in to your Google Account in the upper right hand corner of Google Earth and click “Share.” Images of mountains, oceans, deserts, 3D cities, your favorite pizza shop on Street View—you can now experience all these amazing places around the world with people on Google+.

Search improvements

We’ve also made some updates to the search feature in Google Earth. Aside from streamlining the visual design of the search panel, we’ve enabled the same Autocomplete feature that’s available on Google Maps. We’ve also introduced search layers, which will show all the relevant search results (not just the top ten), so now, when looking for gelato in Milano, you can see all the tasty possibilities. Finally, we’ve added biking, transit and walking directions, so if you’re itching for a change of scenery or looking for a new route for your regular commute, you can now use Google Earth to generate and visualize all your options.

via: Google Lat Long blog

The Email Settings and the Profiles APIs

Updating all signatures to make them adopt the same visually appealing style sounds like a perfect task to automate, however we’d still need to collect various pieces of information for each user, such as phone number or job title, and the Email Settings API has no knowledge of them.

The Google Apps Profiles API provides exactly what we are looking for and in the rest of this article we’ll see how to have the two APIs interact to reach our goal.

Let’s assume we want our signatures to look like the one in the screenshot below, with a bold name, italic job title and clickable link for the email address. Of course you can edit the style as you like with a bit of HTML skills:

Python is the programming language of our choice for this small script and we use the Google Data APIs Python Client Library to send requests to the Email Settings and Profiles APIs.

The first few lines of the script import the required libraries and set the values of the credentials that will be used to authorize our requests. You can find the consumer key and secret for your domain in your Control Panel, under Advanced Tools – Manage OAuth domain key. Remember to replace the dummy values in the script below with yours before running it:

import gdata.apps.emailsettings.client

import gdata.contacts.client

# replace these values with yours


CONSUMER_SECRET = 'my_consumer_secret'

company_name = 'ACME Inc.'

admin_username = 'admin'

We’ll use 2-legged OAuth as the authorization mechanism and set the administrator’s email address as the value of the xoauth_requestor_id parameter, identifying the user we are sending the requests on behalf of.

The consumer key and secret plus the requestor id are the only parameters needed to create an OAuth token that we can pass to the Email Settings and Profiles clients:

# request a 2-legged OAuth token

requestor_id = admin_username + '@' + CONSUMER_KEY

two_legged_oauth_token = gdata.gauth.TwoLeggedOAuthHmacToken(


# Email Settings API client

email_settings_client = gdata.apps.emailsettings.client.EmailSettingsClient(


email_settings_client.auth_token = two_legged_oauth_token

# User Profiles API client

profiles_client = gdata.contacts.client.ContactsClient(


profiles_client.auth_token = two_legged_oauth_token

Let’s define a class that generates the signatures for our users on the basis of a set of optional attributes (occupation, phone number, email, etc). This is the class you need to edit or extend if you want to change the style of the signatures for your domain. In the example below, the HtmlSignature() method simply concatenates some strings with hard-coded styling, but you may want to use a more elaborate templating system instead:

# helper class used to build signatures

class SignatureBuilder(object):

def HtmlSignature(self):

  signature = '%s' %

  if self.occupation:

    signature += '%s' % self.occupation


    signature += '%s' %

  signature += 'Email: %s - Phone: %s' % (,, self.phone_number)

  return signature

def __init__(

    self, name, company='', occupation='', email='', phone_number=''): = name = company

  self.occupation = occupation = email

  self.phone_number = phone_number

Let’s use profiles_client to retrieve a feed containing all profiles for the domain. Each call to GetProfilesFeed() only returns a page of users, so we need to follow the next links until we get all users:

# get all user profiles for the domain

profiles = []

feed_uri = profiles_client.GetFeedUri('profiles')

while feed_uri:

  feed = profiles_client.GetProfilesFeed(uri=feed_uri)


  feed_uri = feed.FindNextLink()

At this point profiles will contain the list of users we want to process. For each of them, we instantiate a SignatureBuilder object and set its properties name, company, occupation, email and phone_number with the data for that user.

A call to the HtmlSignature() method of the SignatureBuilder instance will provide us with a properly formatted HTML-encoded signature.

# extract relevant pieces of data for each profile

for entry in profiles:

builder = SignatureBuilder( = company_name

if entry.occupation:

  builder.occupation = entry.occupation.text

for email in

  if email.primary and email.primary == 'true': = email.address

for number in entry.phone_number:

  if number.primary and number.primary == 'true':

    builder.phone_number = number.text

# build the signature

signature = builder.HtmlSignature()

The Email Settings API client exposes a method called UpdateSignature to set the signature for a target user. This methods accepts two parameters, the username of the user to be affected and a string containing the signature. We just built the latter, so we only need the retrieve the unique username that identifies each user and that can be easily inferred from the entry identifier returned by the Profiles API, as described in the code and the comment below.

It is worth mentioning that you can also retrieve usernames with the Provisioning API, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll rely on this small hack:

# has the following structure:


# the username is the string that follows the last /

username =['/')+1:]

It’s time to send the requests to the Email Settings API and update the signature:

# set the user's signature using the Email Settings API

email_settings_client.UpdateSignature(username=username, signature=signature)

For further details on what can be accomplished with the Google Apps APIs, please check our documentation .

Bing Maps with a new user interface


Over the past few months, we’ve been testing some enhancements to the Bing Maps interface that we’re excited to now make available for everyone. The most apparent changes are to our task and navigation controls, where—based on your feedback—we’ve made it easier to find the most common actions to complete your task at hand.

For reference, here’s the previous design (pay particular attention to the top and bottom of the page):


Here’s the refreshed version:


We’ve consolidated actions that were previously scattered throughout the page, and concentrated them along the top, where you expect to find them. We’ve included text labels for most of the buttons. And, most importantly, we’ve focused on making the controls accessible while still allowing the map to be the focus of the page.

These improvements are being rolled out to all of our international sites with appropriate market-specific functionality. For example, Bing Maps users in the UK will still have access to the London Street Map and Ordnance Survey styles, along with our standard Road map, via the vector style drop-down. The public transport overlay, showing tube, DLR, and tram networks, is also readily available from the navigation bar when the map is centered over the greater London area.]


You’ve told us you love our unique Bird’s eye 45-degree perspective, viewable from all four compass directions, as well as our high resolution Aerial imagery (see the recent blog post on the Global Ortho Project for more details). As a result, we’ve improved access to these imagery types by making them directly accessible from the top of the navigation bar. At the same time, you can now more easily switch between various road and imagery styles with a single click. You also have the option to view either of the imagery styles with or without labels, depending on your preference.


TIP: Automatically center the map on your current location

If you’re visiting Bing Maps with a browser that supports the W3C Geolocation API, you’ll find a new button (calledlocate me) available to the left of the breadcrumb that, when clicked, will center the map on your current location as reported by your browser.


You’ll receive the highest accuracy results—including a pin and approximate radius—when using a computer with WiFi enabled. You can turn off the pin by clicking the button again. (Note: all browsers will prompt you to share your location after you click the locate me button; if you choose not to allow access, Bing Maps will be unable to center the map on your location.)


We hope you find these changes make Bing Maps simpler and more efficient to use as you focus on completing your map-focused tasks!