Google Earth has been on autopilot for the last few years as Google busied itself with other things. Now, the product is getting its first major update since 2012 with staggeringly cool 3D maps, guided tours, and a whole lot more.

You don’t even need to download anything special to check it out on your computer (as long as you use Chrome). Simply head over to the new and improved Earth web interface. For Android users, there’s also a new version of the Earth app rolling out.

One of the most fascinating things about Earth was simply scrolling around to see what the world looks like from above. Now, you can get a much more realistic look at things. The 3D mode renders the world so you can see things from any angle, based on data from satellites and Street View. The results are impressive (see below), but it’s not available everywhere. I wouldn’t call it photorealistic, either. Objects up close look a bit like low-poly blobs that happen to representations of the real world.

maps 3d

Google is also making a big deal of its guided tours, which are called Voyager. These aren’t just random algorithmic collections of locations or a mess of Street View photos. Google actually worked with scientists and conservation experts to put together Voyager. There are 50 tours available at launch covering locales like the Galapagos Islands, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and “Hemingway’s Hangouts.”

There are tie-ins with the BBC’s Planet Earth, NASA, Sesame Street, and more for additional content when you zoom in on certain areas as well. Google plans to add more tours to Voyager on a weekly basis, as least for a while.

If all that’s not to your liking and you just want to wander around, there’s a new “I’m feeling lucky” button. That blasts you across the globe to a random location and brings up a knowledge card so you can learn more. The cards include a description from Wikipedia, nearby points of interest, and related searches.

Earth has traditionally been a very unguided casual experience where you make your own fun. And if you wanted actual directions, you’d just use Maps. This update appears to be an attempt to make Earth more than a pleasant diversion. The web version of Google Earth is available to everyone, but the Android version is still in the early stages of an incremental rollout. The version with all the new features is v9.0. Give it a day or so, and it should be in the Play Store for everyone

1 Comment

Torre Mar Galapagos · August 16, 2017 at 4:09 am

It’s actually a great and useful piece of info.
I’m happy that you just shared this helpful info
with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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