Can you believe Google Earth is 15 years old? Yes, that’s right, but no matter the age, the virtual world application got recently an improved refresh on the web, as well as on Android. If this is your first time using Google Earth, let me take you on a short field trip.
The newly updated version of Google Earth comes with a faster loading, cleaner interface and plenty of guided tours that have background info, letting you see the world without leaving your place once. Now that is awesome!
Good news for those who have iPhones, Google Earth has not forgot about you either, the app will be available soon to iOS and browsers other than Chrome.
Getting started: go to Google Earth website on Chrome, launch the app and congrats, you’re floating above the Earth. Use the icons available from the lower right-hand corner, your mouse scroll wheel or just double-click to zoom in. So far, you’re doing well.
If you want to look up specific places in the world, just open the search box. Google can even help you find vague places as well, like “the capital city of England”. The new feature added on Google Earth is I’m Felling Lucky, which is also found on its search engine. If you’ve run out of ideas where to travel, the die icon on the left takes you to somewhere interesting with great pan-and zoom effect.
You can save the places for when you decide to return, whenever you travel to a specific place, notifications appear offering you more information about it and reveal addition details (prices for restaurants, opening times for museums).
Moving around: being able to wonder freely is the main point of enjoying the Google Earth experience, so you need to learn the controls as fast as you can – it’s really easy – but there are some extra controls that need to be mentioned.
The roll of the mouse scroll wheel or the two-finger swipe helps you zoom (there are controls on-screen that help you as well), while clicking and dragging pans the map. If you press the SHIFT key and you hold it down while you’re clicking and dragging, you are able to change the tilt of the landscape and see the terrain layout into view. You can also switch between 2D and 3D. If you hold down the CTRL key and you click and drag, the direction of your view can change.
Taking tours: the newest and biggest addition in the new Google Earth is the introduction of Voyager section where you get guided tours through the ship steering wheel icon found on the left. There are plenty of choices that will help you satisfy your curiosity. The Voyager tours have linked spots on the map; at each point, you get some information about what’re seeing and a photo for a different perspective. While on your trip, all the common panning and zooming controls apply as if you were using Google Earth.
Saving places: whenever you search for or clicked on a place, a notification pops on allowing you to click on the bookmark icon and save it. The saved places are kept as a simple list that can be brought up by clicking the bookmark icon on the menu bar. If you want to change any entries in the list, click EDIT. You can export places as a KMZ file as well. For now, the bookmarking options are rather scarce, but maybe Google plans to enlarge this part in the future. If you click the main menu button on top left, the style of the map can be changed and can access the Google Earth dialog settings: options for animation, zoom controls, speed, units of measurement and many more.
Enjoy discovering the world the modern way!