Google Earth has always been our favorite way to explore the world from the comfort of our desks. Being able to click on places of the globe and zoom down to see it up close is incredibly fun and Google has released updates and layers over the years that let us gather more information as we clicked around.
Now, with a refresh on the software, Google Earth is becoming first and foremost a destination for deep exploration, not just satellite views. Google revealed the update yesterday, which includes a new Voyager feature created just for us desktop adventurers.
Voyager was created through a partnership with several organizations like the BBC and NASA to create guided tours to the world’s amazing places. Videos, photos and text narratives added to 3-D representations of areas around the world allow users to fully immerse themselves in a place. The Jane Goodall Institute provided tours of Gombe National Park in Tanzania where Goodall has done much of her research on chimpanzees. Goodall provides field notes, as shown below.
Google Earth/Screen capture
For the kid in you, Sesame Street joined with the tech company to map places where Muppets productions happen around the world and the Muppets offer facts about the region and the culture there.
Because this is Google, of course there is an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. Clicking this will randomly take you to one of 20,000 lesser-known, but fascinating locations around the world. Many of these spots are known and loved by locals, but not as well known by the rest of us.
The other significant update is that Google Earth will now work on Google Chrome Browsers, no need for the desktop app anymore. For smartphones and tablets you’ll still the need app though because of the huge graphics. The Android app is already being updated with the new features, but the iOS version is still being worked on.
Google also updated the virtual reality version of the app which works with the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.
What will you explore first on the new Google Earth?