It seems a lot of Mac owners, like me, are anticipating the arrival of the Google Earth client for Mac. Alas… it is nowhere in sight. But do not despair. Actually, there are alternatives available, here’s three I can think of. ‘Virtual PC for Mac‘, ‘Remote Desktop Client for Mac‘ and ‘Google Maps‘.
#1: Virtual PC for Mac
This alternative creates a virtual environment on your Mac that’ll run Windows XP and -hopefully- therefore Google Earth. But you’ll have to shell out some money to buy it. Then you’ll have to make sure you meet the requirements (power of the system). And then hopefully GE has enough room to run.
It is possible but I don’t see any raving stories…
For more info see: Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac.
#2: Remote Desktop Client for Mac
The second alternative is based on a free remote client connection. But you’ll need to obtain a connection to a GE-capable Windows machine. This alternative is pretty sweet, because the CPU-cycles needed are executed on the ‘server’-machine. The only bottle-neck is the speed of the connection.
What you need is:
- A decent connection to a Windows XP Pro machine. Be it a spare GE-capable machine or a friend who is willing to share his/her machine via Remote Desktop Connection Sharing. And of course having GE installed.
- The Remote Desktop Client for Mac from Microsoft. It’s free.
You’ll need to fiddle around with the settings and LAN. But… in this way you can take over a Windows Desktop from ‘any’ Mac Desktop. So you are not just confined to Google Earth.
#3: Google Earth converter for Google Maps
This alternative isn’t a reality already. But it could be done. If someone, other than me, would implement a KML/KMZ parser combined with the Google Maps Api, you’d have a killer-app. (I’m looking at you, GEH)
Although I must say Google Maps is no match for Google Earth as for the 3D experience. But the only thing you’ll need is a browser (Safari, Camino or Firefox), drop in your placemarks and enjoy the view.
My experiments so far have led to implementing the top 25 impact structures in GMaps. You can view the alpha version in the lab (alpha meaning it’s severely broken).
If you know of another way to run GE on a Mac, let me know.
Update: I stand corrected on the ‘Remote Desktop Connection’ option. Although RDC is a very nice way to connect to & run a Windows XP Pro desktop inside a Mac, it does NOT (in most cases) let you run Google Earth. I will spare you the other technicalities, but it all boils down to color (bit) depth.
To conserve bandwidth, the colors of the RDC session are tuned down. If you are lucky it’ll be 16-bits or more. If not, you are stuck with 15-bit color or less.
And that’s why GE won’t run. It either wants 16 bits (high-color) or 32 bits (true-color) color. (DirectX demands 32-bit color!) So if you connect and start GE, the only thing you will be presented with, is a completely white sphere (in OpenGL mode that is).
But… there are other ‘remote desktop’ options. So I’ve tried with TightVNC server on WinXP and Chicken of the VNC for Mac OSX. But there is a very distinct lag and the screen fails too many a time to refresh to make it a viable solution.