Sunday, July 24, 2005

Google Earth may shed light on Google browser efforts

If you haven't yet tried Google Earth, you really ought to. Not long after Google acquired the satellite imaging company Keyhole, they launched the highly acclaimed Google Maps and shortly there-after Google Earth, which is a stand-alone application using the same imagery but also offering more features than initially available through the Google Maps web interface.

Google Earth is a much more user friendly version of Keyhole that pulls information from the Internet and incorporates that data into satellite images which you can zoom, tilt and rotate. That description just barely scratches the surface, but I think you get the idea. This is getting to be a less and less stunning achievement as user contributed add-ons are getting very creative since the release of the Google Maps API and new competition from other "tech majors" such as Microsoft and Yahoo.

One feature that caught my eye was the embedded web browser that has been built into Google Earth. I happened across it by exploring the "User-Supplied Collections" overlay layer. Which is a list of placemarks on the map that get streamed as you navigate the map window. One of the collections plots the location of webcams and gives a brief description . Included in some of the descriptions is a URL, that will show you the webcam feed. This opens a new frame(panel) in the Google Earth application, which is resizeable, and has very basic controls.

This was very cool indeed and it got me thinking of all the rumors surrounding Google's recent hire of a Mozilla developer. Many people expect that Google will be releasing a browser of their own. I wanted to know a little bit more about the browser and what its functionality is. I can't help but wonder if there is any vulnerability created by it or how long it will be before the web-cam links are poisoned by the internet assholes out there.

My first stop with the Google Earth browser was to http://www.ipmonkey.com/
Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows
NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Remote Port: 1474

Next off to http://www.grc.com/ to use the Shields Up! web-app to view the browser header information.
Accept: image/gif, image/x-xbitmap,
image/jpeg, image/pjpeg, application/x-shockwave-flash,
application/vnd.ms-excel, application/vnd.ms-powerpoint,
application/msword, */*

Accept-Language: en-us
Connection: Keep-Alive
Host: www.grc.com
Referer: http://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?--------
User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0;
Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)

Content-Length: 32
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Cache-Control: no-cache
Secure: https://www.grc.com
Nonsecure: http://www.grc.com

Plenty more testing to do.
Looks like MSIE to me. I next tried out http://www.windowsupdate.com/ which worked just fine.

Do you think this shoots the Google Browser rumor in the foot? I sure would like to see what Google would do with the flexibility producing your own browser offers. Imagine all of the cool things google does rolled into your browser. The things people use firefox extension for could just as well be part of the browser to provide un-matched integration between the google services and you all much easier and seamless for the end user. That's the sort of thing that will really kick Microsoft in the teeth. Exciting to thing about anyway, rumor or not.