Earlier this week, Google unveiled a new version of Google Earth, an app that was considered amazing when it launched in 2001 but hadn’t really evolved in the same way that Google’s other technologies have. Now, thanks to this latest update, Google Earth is replete with 3D imagery, curated video content, and other features that will either make you want to book a trip to some far-flung part of the world or just appreciate the Earth right from your own latitude and longitude coordinates. Or maybe both.
Here are five things to try with the new Google Earth, which runs in Chrome on desktop and on Android for mobile users:
Enjoy 3D Maps
In earlier versions of Google Earth, certain buildings could be viewed in 3D, provided you checked off “3D Buildings” in the Layers portion of the app. But in the newest release of Google Earth, you can view, well, the whole world in 3D. When you search for a location, a clickable 2D/3D button appears on the lower right-hand corner of the screen, giving you a quick and easy way to look at your destination in another dimension.
Have another dose of David Attenborough
If Planet Earth II wasn’t enough to satisfy your love of nature, or you just can’t get enough of David Attenborough’s remarkably dignified narration of a lizard getting chased by hundreds of terrifying snakes, check out “Epic Hunts Caught on Camera.” Thanks to a partnership with BBC Earth, Google Earth now offers a series of short video clips narrated by Attenborough, which play in YouTube along the righthand side of the usual Earth view. If chimpanzees or underwater expeditions are more your thing, there’s also content from primatologist Jane Goodall and marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle.
See Hemingway’s hangouts
Ever want to see the places where Ernest Hemingway wrote his most important and influential works, ones that are second only to this blog post? Within the new “Voyage” tab in Google Earth, you can take a virtual tour of the Galapagos islands, the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya, and other UNESCO World Heritage sites; as well as cultural imprints like Hemingway’s hangouts, architecture by Zaha Hadid, and global perspectives on the different structures we call “home.”
Did you know that before Europeans came to North America, so-called Mississippians “had built a great city surrounded by huge earthen pyramids and a Stonehenge-like structure made of wood to track the movements of the stars”? And that it’s still visible in Illinois? Me neither, but the new Google Earth highlights this structure, along with eight other architectural feats, forgotten lands, or relics of an ancient world. Go to Google Earth -> Voyage -> History -> Lost Civilizations from Above to find them.
Google has ported its “I’m feeling lucky” button from its search engine to the new Google Earth, and it’s a glorious way to distract yourself at work or plan your next spontaneous trip. That’s all for now; gotta go catch a flight to Kasprowy Wierch.