Google Earth's iPhone application has just been updated with iPad support, allowing you to now touch and swipe your way through the high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery available in the desktop version of Google Earth and its prior mobile counterparts. The end result is an application that's well worth the download, especially considering the price is free.

Playing around with the new application, it's almost as if Google Earth was originally designed for the iPad, but had to limit itself to desktop computers and tiny mobile screens until now. Yes, it's just that good.

There aren't many new features in this update (version 3.0) which now bundles in iPad support with the Apple mobile application, a 12 MB download. In fact, the only added feature listed on the iTunes page is a road layer for iPad and iPhone 3GS.

But for some reason, this native iPad app recaptures the feeling of amazement and wonder which I honestly haven't felt since the app's launch, way back in 2005. (How soon we become jaded.)

Falling in Love with Google Earth Again

At the time, I worked in I.T. for a small business and was surprised to find some users at the branch locations had managed to install the Google Earth application on the locked-down kiosk-style computers out on the showroom floor. (Google Earth was sneaky and installed itself to user profiles, even though users had no permission to install applications themselves. A tricky workaround on Google's part.)

Although I was inevitably tasked with removing the app from the public computers, I couldn't help but spend a few minutes in awe as the entire staff gathered around the screen to search for this person's house, that person's hometown and so on. It was, in a word, fascinating. And who could blame them? This was incredible technology. It almost saddened me to take it away from them, knowing that for some of these people, the work computer was their only outlet for reaching the Web and the applications it held.

But unfortunately that's how things went in the world of '05 I.T. Computers were tools, not toys. And definitely not the hybrid work/life devices of today.

At home, though, Google Earth was a joy. For awhile, that is...until eventually, over time, those early feelings of excitement for globe-spinning geolocation application wore off and Google Earth was just Google Earth, the clunky desktop app which sat lonely and un-launched until it was eventually uninstalled.

A few years later, it came to the iPhone, and we easily dubbed it a "winner" in our review. Yet it was nothing like this. Google Earth was made for the iPad, it just didn't exist until now. We never knew what we were missing.

You can download Google Earth for iPad yourself here.