google earth new version

Google Earth redesign unveiled with focus on 3D locales and education

Google Earth has been redesigned with a new focus on educational ‘knowledge cards’ and 3D navigation around select locations.

The new version has been in development for two years and is available now in the Chrome web browser on the desktop and as an updated Android app.  

The redesign’s centrepiece is ‘Voyager’, a series of interactive guided tours curated by “some of the world's leading storytellers, scientists and nonprofits.”

One such example is ‘Natural Treasures’ which has been made with help from BBC Earth and features various forms of wildlife from six habitats.

“Head to Gombe National Park in Tanzania and hear from Jane Goodall about her team’s chimpanzee research and conservation efforts,” Google said in a blog post. 

“Make a stop in Mexico with Lola, one of 12 little monsters featured in Sesame Street’s Girl Muppets Around the World, and learn about modern Mayan cultures. With more than 50 immersive stories in Voyager, and more added weekly, there are lots of adventures to choose from.”

Google has also incorporated its “I’m feeling lucky” button which will take users to a random location. The feature is just one example of how the search giant is keen to present Google Earth as a platform designed for exploration in a major differentiation from Google Maps which is more about navigation.

The Knowledge Cards, which can be accessed at specific points of interest, feature additional history and facts about the area as well as photos. Users can also flip through the cards to find related places.

A new 3D button has been added to the UI which allows places to be viewed at any angle.

Google has been selective about which areas it models in 3D, generally sticking to the centre of populated cities and towns or noteworthy geological settings such as the Grand Canyon.

Some places, as demonstrated in the picture above showing an area of South London, feature a jarring transition between the 3D mapped world and flat 2D satellite images.

As well as the aforementioned platforms, the new version of Google Earth is set to roll out on iOS and other browsers “in the near future”.

The site cannot currently be accessed through Firefox or Internet Explorer, but it displays a message implying that these will be supported in due course: “The new Google Earth isn’t supported by your browser yet.”

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